After budget hike, county departments look to restore funds

KINGMAN - Those 5 percent cuts that Mohave County Board of Supervisors demanded from every department to balance next year's budget didn't last long.

Just a couple of items after supervisors voted 3-2 to increase the primary property tax by $1.3 million above the truth-in-taxation amount, they started hearing requests for additional funding from department heads.

Mohave County Recorder Carol Meier was first in line, seeking approval to fund a position that had been eliminated from the Recorder's Office for $43,045 in salary and benefits at hourly rate of $12.57.

The board approved the request by a 4-1 vote, with Supervisor Buster Johnson opposed.

Meier said she "unfunded" the position to meet the 5 percent department cut, and thought the property tax increase would fund the position again.

"If it's not funded, I can't even come to you later and ask for it," Meier told the board. "I'm not going to hire somebody tomorrow. Maybe next year."

In the next agenda item, a motion to add $188,000 back into the county Treasurer's budget failed, 2-3, with Supervisors Johnson, Jean Bishop and Gary Watson opposed.

Bill Barker from the Treasurer's Office said he was confused with what took place with the budget. His department cut 5 percent, and he was "under the impression" that some of those cuts would be reviewed and put back into the budget if the board raised sales or property taxes.

The Treasurer wants $82,824 for software maintenance costs omitted from the general fund budget; $49,000 in back salaries and benefits; $40,000 in decreased revenue; and $16,478 in other material line items.

Supervisor Hildy Angius was perplexed that every department was asked to cut 5 percent, and the primary property tax was raised from $1.82 to $1.97 for every $100 of assessed value to generate an estimated $2.5 million in additional revenue.

Now the board is being asked to fund department requests.

County Administrator Mike Hendrix said his proposal was to raise sales tax by a quarter-cent, and still have the 5 percent department cuts. If an emergency arises such as the need for additional employees, it can be funded through contingency balances, he said.