Photo by JC Amberlyn.
KINGMAN – Combining risk management with the emergency management division of Homeland Security under one department head will save Mohave County $81,000 in salary, according to the county administrator, though some supervisors expressed skepticism of the move during discussion at Monday’s board meeting.
The board voted 4-1 (Buster Johnson opposed) to create the new Department of Risk and Emergency Management and appoint Byron Steward as director at an annual salary of $92,900. He currently makes $64,480 plus benefits as manager of emergency services.
The move would eliminate the positions of risk management director and assistant coordinator for emergency management.
Michael Browning will be promoted to Homeland Security emergency management coordinator at a salary of $62,858.
“This will allow me to get the right people to the right positions,” County Administrator Mike Hendrix said. “This will facilitate and encourage dialogue between risk management and Homeland Security.”
Supervisor Hildy Angius of Bullhead City said she would vote for the move based on the county administrator’s recommendation. However, she wanted a report on the department’s operation in six months.
If it’s as successful as Hendrix believes it will be, she’s going to want to look at combining other county positions to save money. She also wants the risk manager to be free to contact supervisors anytime with concerns.
Supervisor Buster Johnson said he doesn’t see how combining the departments is going to benefit the public, and he was worried about confidentiality with two departments working in the same area.
The offices of Risk and Emergency Management will be located in the civil attorney suite within the County Administrative Building.
“We’re proposing to put the emergency services director in charge of risk management and give the people below him raises, and leave the manager who makes half of the guy before him and tell him to train people making more than him,” Johnson said. “Why not make him the risk manager and keep emergency services?”
Hendrix said the departmental reorganization optimizes resources and eliminates overlapping areas of responsibility, allowing for better communication and coordination. Also, cross-training between risk management and emergency management will make more personnel available to handle emergency situations.
Steward is an “extremely talented individual” who will be up to the task of handling added responsibilities, Hendrix said. One of the conditions Hendrix placed upon Steward is that he attain an associate’s degree in risk management within a year.
When it comes to reorganizing county departments, “nothing is ever set in stone,” Supervisor Steve Moss said, “because you’re always trying to make progress.” He liked Angius’s idea of a six-month report.
In other action from Monday’s regular board meeting:
• The board voted 4-1 (Johnson opposed) to authorize an agreement between the Mohave County Treasurer and JP Morgan Chase Bank to provide separate lines of credit for two political subdivisions for which the county acts as treasurer. Johnson said he had never seen a line of credit come before the board, and wanted to make sure the agreement is with the county and the bank, not the treasurer and the bank.
• The board unanimously denied a petition to establish half-mile sections of Chino Drive and North Cross Ranch Road in Golden Valley as county highways.
• The board pulled an item that would approve a 10-year license agreement with Kingman Farms to use public road right-of-way for placement of a 16-inch irrigation pipe across Stockton Hill Road north of Kingman to provide irrigation water to Kingman Farms. The item was posted incorrectly as Kingman Farms is now EB Acquisitions. Johnson said Kingman Farms has filed for bankruptcy and wasn’t sure how that might affect the agreement.
• The board voted for staff to investigate acquiring land and a well in the Wikieup area for road maintenance. Public Works Director Steve Latoski said the county must take water from the Arizona Department of Transportation yard in Wikieup, and that it would be beneficial for the county to have access to its own well and to acquire property for a maintenance yard. Staff will look into using HURF (Highway User Revenue Funds)