Resignation limits options for Mohave County budget fix

Steven Moss

Courtesy

Steven Moss

For anyone that notices, Mohave County Supervisor Steve Moss is no longer listed as a representative for District 5 on the county’s website. He resigned his position late Tuesday night following his appointment as a judge to the superior court.

Although the appointment was coveted by Moss, it has raised questions on how the county will dig itself out, or if it can dig itself out, of a $2.8 million projected budget shortfall.

From an administrative standpoint, the remaining four-person Board of Supervisors – often at odds on how to solve the shortfall – places county staff between a rock and a hard place.

“If the board fails to pass a budget at their Aug. 7 meeting, then we revert back to last year’s budget,” said Mohave County Administrator Michael Hendrix.

Although last year’s budget was lower than what is proposed for 2017-18, Hendrix said, the county would still be on the hook for its debt liabilities that include the return of $1.2 million in overpayments made by public safety employees to their pension fund, additional contribution payments to that fund and $500,000 for indigent defense of capital murder cases.

“I believe this will mean we would have to take a look at the entire budget and shift money around to cover our mandated liabilities,” Hendrix said.

If the board of supervisors cannot come to a consensus on a budget, continuing with current funding levels will put the county in a disastrous position, said Supervisor Jean Bishop.

“We’ve got the $2.8 million deficit and if we continue forward with the budget as it stands now, we will not be able to cover this amount and we will be in bigger trouble,” Bishop said. “I think that could mean employee layoffs or department cuts, and will be almost as drastic as what we will have to do if Supervisor Buster Johnson’s budget (calling for a 3.5 percent across the board cut to county departments) moves forward.”

Hendrix agrees that without a comprehensive budget, employee layoffs are possible.

“It’s either going to come down to paying for the debt out of what we believe is necessary to keep in contingency funding for emergencies, or to dip into other fund balances and potentially look at services,” Hendrix added. “I hope they do pass a budget, but if not we will adopt last year’s budget.”

The Board of Supervisors will meet in special session at 3 p.m. Friday to address filling Moss’ seat.

If the supervisors cannot come to a consensus on Moss’ replacement, Ginny Anderson will be called upon to break a potential two-two deadlock.