County administration works toward solution supervisors will support

KINGMAN – Mohave County administrative staff, faced with the monumental task of developing a budget proposal that will satisfy the wishes of its Board of Supervisors, may have to burn the midnight oil to have an agenda item ready for the Aug. 7 deadline.

While the supervisors will be allowed to convene that meeting, they cannot recess until a budget is passed.

The options to overcome a $2.8 million projected budget shortfall include the unlikely passage of a property tax increase, an across the board cut of 3.5 percent, maintaining current year funding levels while finding a way to pay for millions in county debt liabilities, and shifting county department fund reserves.

“If the board gets into a true impasse we have to look at areas that have been proposed and areas that are available to us to try to determine what is the least detrimental to the county,” said Michael Hendrix, Mohave County administrator.

The problem with one of the most popular proposals, Hendrix added, is if you shift money from department reserves there is little wiggle room in subsequent years to adjust to budget shortfalls.

“By raiding the reserves, it’s a one-and-done expenditure and not a recurring revenue source,” Hendrix said. “If you put money into something like increasing salaries that’s a recurring expense … and you have to have that same amount of money available next year. You have to have a consistent revenue source to sustain some of the things the board has discussed.”

Supervisor Hildy Angius is optimistic the board will reach consensus.

“I’m not adverse at looking to make small cuts, but an across the board cut of 3.5 percent will not work and I would not support that,” Angius said. “I’m also not going to vote for a property tax … but we are all Republicans and for the most part we all see things in a similar manner.”

Supervisor Jean Bishop has offered up a slim-to-none solution, calling for a 10 cent property tax increase to help relieve the sheriff’s department salary compression issues along with similar issues facing the probation department.

“I have no doubt that we will come up with some kind of a way to get through this next budget year,” Bishop said.