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Sat, Jan. 18

Early budget contains raises for county employees

KINGMAN - The Mohave County Board of Supervisors recently approved a 2.5 percent raise for county employees in the tentative budget.

County employees haven't had a raise since the Board froze wages in 2007. According to County Finance Director John Timko, the raise would only apply to employees who have been with the county for at least six months and had a satisfactory rating on their last employee review.

"So this is a kind of mix between a cost-of-living adjustment and a merit raise?" asked District 4 Supervisor Joy Brotherton.

"Yes," Timko said.

District 5 Supervisor Steven Moss wasn't sure it was a good idea to give employees a cost-of-living adjustment.

"I'm kind of leery of agreeing to a 2.5 percent increase that goes on year after year," he said. "What if the county's financial situation changes?"

It would be more prudent to do a lump sum raise that was limited to one year, Moss said.

District 3 Supervisor Buster Johnson pointed out that the Board didn't have to decide how they wanted to distribute the raise until the final budget was approved on Aug. 5.

"We're just setting the upper limit of the budget," he said.

According to Timko, the $253 million tentative budget also includes money for two new deputies for the Arizona Strip area in northern Mohave County, 12 new correctional officers for the jail, repairs to the Kingman Animal Shelter and 55 mobile cell units that will allow deputies to connect directly with headquarters while on the road.

It also includes money to cover an increase in medical costs for jail inmates, a remodeling of the Lake Havasu City Superior Court building to accommodate a new judge and additional funds to cover any overages for outside defense attorneys.

The money for the jail medical costs and outside defense attorneys will come from the $550,000 the county received from the state lottery.

At the same time, the Board will not increase property taxes, which means the county will take a $573,000 hit in tax revenue due to falling property values, Timko said.

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