Cash is king, so why won't Mohave County accept it for property taxes?

Cindy Landa-Cox

Cindy Landa-Cox

KINGMAN - Every denomination of the U.S. dollar declares the note is "legal tender for all debts, public and private," so why won't Mohave County Treasurer's Office accept cash for property tax payments at satellite offices in Lake Havasu City and Bullhead City?

Primarily for security reasons, county Treasurer Cindy Landa-Cox said.

"It puts our people in a precarious position as far as security," she told the Mohave County Board of Supervisors at Monday's regular meeting.

Those offices would need to be retrofitted with surveillance cameras, bulletproof glass at the cashier's window, a cash counter and a safe, among other things, she said.

She would also need two people from her office to handle the cash, not just one.

After some discussion, supervisors voted 5-0 in support of Chairman Steve Moss's motion to seek legal advice to determine if Landa-Cox can deny cash payments at the satellite offices.

If cash payment is offered on a debt and refused, the debt is considered as paid, Moss said. That's federal law, the attorney noted.

"I think it would behoove us to get a legal opinion and it will protect the treasurer," he said.

Moss said he wants satellite offices to remain open, but he doesn't want the county to get in trouble. If there is a federal or state law exemption, he wants to know what it is.

Landa-Cox said she's fully in favor of opening satellite offices in Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City full-time, though that would be a $200,000 initiative with the retrofit.

The offices are currently open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for a two-week period to accept property tax payments in the form of personal checks, cashier's checks or money orders.

Last year, satellite offices accepted 166 payments in cash, Landa-Cox said. The highest amount taken in one day was around $30,000.

In other action on the board's agenda:

• A motion to hire Phillip Cundiff as the county's risk management director at an annual salary of $102,400 failed 2-3, with Supervisors Buster Johnson, Gary Watson and Jean Bishop opposed. Watson made a motion for staff to go forward in a new search for risk manager, Moss seconded the motion and it passed 5-0.

• The board continued an item that would refer the current paid time-off plan to an independent outside legal expert for review and consideration of options. The item will be incorporated into another PTO item at the Oct. 5 meeting.

• The board directed the county administrator to come back in December with a report about mandated and unmandated services as they relate to going to a zero-based budget for 2017. Supervisor Johnson said he understands the county downsized from more than 1,400 employees to just over 1,000, and there's "no fluff" in the departments, but a zero-based budget goes back to basics on what needs to be provided and how much it will cost.

Supervisor Hildy Angius said a lot of government entities are moving toward some kind of zero-based budget and it has worked in Phoenix and Maricopa County.

There's a movement in Arizona to adopt Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, or GAAP, and it's something the county should think about before it's required, Angius said.