Guest Column: County won't have a tax hike

It is budget time for Mohave County government. During the last two years there have been no tax increases from the county itself. This is not to say that we haven't had our challenges, but because of good fiscal planning we have not had to entertain the idea of raising taxes for our citizens.

This year Mohave County starts off $3.8 million in the hole. The state of Arizona balanced its budget, but did so on the backs of the counties and cities by shifting certain costs. In addition, the county has seen less revenue due to a myriad of reasons, none of our own making.

The county administration has proposed three budget alternatives. The first involves across the board cuts which we believe would limit the ability for the county to provide essential services. The second is a property tax increase of 15 cents and the third is a proposal for the Board to adopt a one-quarter cent sales tax combined with a lowering of the primary property tax from $1.8196 to $1.7596.

The adoption of a sales tax would take a unanimous vote of the Board of Supervisors. A property tax change would not.

Knowing we could not support any of those proposals, we studied the budget and found that Mohave County has certain internal funds where the amount of money in the fund far exceeds the need. This money, your money, has been sitting in these funds like a savings account, untouched, in case the county needs it for that specific budgeted purpose.

We have proposed a budget that incorporates taking some of the money from these funds, which we are legally allowed to do, along with some targeted cuts to county administration. This would cover our $3.8 million shortfall with approximately $2.6 million left over for whatever surprises we might encounter during the course of the year, or to begin work on approved projects the county has been putting off.

Admittedly, this is a short term fix. But the truth is we do not know what the next year will bring. The economy appears to be picking up. The state has announced that they have received an unexpected revenue boost to the tune of $300 million. We have urged, and will continue to urge, our state representatives to return some of that money to the counties.

If Mohave County were truly in trouble, we would be honest with you and would support a tax increase. But that is not the case this year. The county has the money to get through this rough patch.

The Board of Supervisors will vote on a tentative budget today. We will not vote for any tax increases.

We believe you are taxed enough.