Without consensus, BOS has headache of a budget

Steve Moss

Steve Moss

KINGMAN – With little consensus on how to deal with the county’s $2.8 million budget deficit, supervisors can expect a contentious hearing on Aug. 7 when the final budget has to approved.

Supervisor Steve Moss took the lead at Monday’s regular board meeting in laying out his plan to make up the deficit if the quarter-cent sales tax increase isn’t included, and from Supervisor Buster Johnson’s stance, the sales tax is dead.

“This is the six-month-long headache the board has had with all the various financial surprises that we’ve encountered,” Moss said.

Moss presented a two-pronged approach for covering the budget shortfall, taking $1.2 million for pension debt from the Employees Benefit Trust and $1.8 million in sweeps from the landfill fund.

That would give the county a $200,000 surplus.

He also proposed cutting $100,000 from the supervisors’ budgets, and $341,782 from building inspection, which would add another $441,782 to the contingency fund.

Moss would give 25 cents from the proposed property tax increase to Mohave County Sheriff’s Office, and 1 cent to the probation department.

His detailed budget proposal calls for nearly $6.5 million in contingency sweeps, including $4 million from the general fund, $1 million from vehicle replacement, $500,000 from the motor pool and $500,000 from maintenance funds of various districts.

At the end of the year, the board would determine how much to allocate to funds for pensions, litigation, courthouse renovation, new animal shelter or returning money to fund balances.

Supervisor Hildy Angius said her proposals are pretty much along the same lines as Moss, but she wouldn’t raise property taxes.

The county has reserve funds that are restricted only by its own policies.

“It’s time to take a closer look at those policies,” she said. “I cannot in good conscience ask property owners for more of their hard-earned money when so much of their money is sitting in county bank accounts.”

Angius said her budget priorities are the $1.2 million Hall lawsuit related to pension refunds, the remaining $1.6 million projected budget shortfall and $1.5 million in sheriff’s department “compression” issues.

The county has $2 million in contingency, or “rainy day” fund, that’s been used very little over the years, Angius noted. She would take $1 million from there.

“It still leaves a million dollars that hopefully we will bring back up over the years,” she said.

She’d also take $1 million from the health insurance trust holiday, leaving between $8.5 million and $8.8 million, along with $1 million from motor pool fleet services and replacement.