Mohave County Supervisors discuss options to alleviate $2.8 million deficit

Mohave County Board of Supervisors Chairman Hildy Angius, District 2

Mohave County Board of Supervisors Chairman Hildy Angius, District 2

KINGMAN – There’s three ways to balance the $2.8 million shortfall in Mohave County’s 2018 budget, and Mohave County Supervisor Hildy Angius believes it can be done by budget cuts and digging into savings.

Taxation is out of the question, Angius said at Monday’s regular Board of Supervisors meeting.

The board took no action after reviewing a number of available options to cover the budget shortfall without tax increases.

“I wanted to start early this year because there has been a lot of – I believe – misinformation in the press, and our citizens are rightfully upset about the prospect of the county raising their property taxes, and I believe this year we don’t have to,” Angius said.

The board voted 3-2 in June, with Supervisors Angius and Buster Johnson opposed, to raise property taxes by 52 cents for every $1,000 of assessed property value.

Supervisor Steve Moss said he appreciated all of the efforts by county Finance Director Coral Loyd and her staff to draft a tentative budget that will go before a public hearing on Aug. 7.

They came up with some good ideas, Moss said, but he wanted to pin down some things such as deferring $1.2 million in pension retirement liability, and sweeping $1.8 million from unrestricted funds.

“So we’d have a $200,000 surplus with the sweeps,” Moss said. He also suggested cutting the budget of each supervisor by $20,000, which would add another $100,000 to the surplus.

Larry Schiff, chairman of the Mohave County Republican Central Committee, said he looks forward to talking to some of the supervisors at the club’s monthly meetings about the need to raise taxes.

“I do have very significant concerns, however. For one, understand that on a county level, tax money normally goes for things as opposed to the federal budget, which is two-thirds composed of transfer payments,” Schiff said.

“Nonetheless, you simply cannot tax your way to prosperity, and in all I have read in the newspapers about the budget, I have not heard one word mentioned about cutting spending or living within our means.”

Schiff would like to see privatization of “duplicative functions” such as the TV district, which should not be the purview of government.

“It is indeed ironic that as the Republican House, Senate and president are working on significant tax cuts and reform, our local politicians on both the county and city level are constantly itching to soak the taxpayer,” Schiff said.

Angius proposed taking $1 million from the unrestricted $2 million contingency fund, $500,000 to $1 million from the $1.4 million motor pool fund, $1 million to $1.8 million from the $10 million landfill fund, and up to $1.8 million from the $6 million library building fund.

She also looked at funds for economic development, Employee Benefit Trust and environmental health.

County Attorney Ryan Esplin recommended not using the environmental health account. State law specifically states how those funds can be used, he said.

“We can do all of this or none of this,” Angius said. “But I think before we even talk about raising our citizens’ property taxes again, we need to discuss, as a board, using the monies that we have.”

Though the county’s administration has been fiscally responsible and conservative, supervisors need a unanimous vote to enact a quarter-cent sales tax under Arizona law by the board.

“We are the only county who hasn’t taxed to the max, as some people like to say, and I’d like to keep it that way,” Angius said.