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Wed, Jan. 29

Mohave County joins fight for road funds

KINGMAN - The Mohave County Board of Supervisors will join hands Monday with the County Supervisors Association of Arizona in requesting changes in how money from the 15 counties in Arizona is being spent by the state.

The Board will sign a resolution asking the Arizona legislature to restore local Highway User Revenue Funds (HURF) to the county instead of using them to fund state agencies. Also, it will sign and send letters to Gov. Jan Brewer and legislators requesting they eliminate county payments to the Sexually Violent Persons program at Arizona State Hospital, re-establish the county's share of lottery revenue and increase state investment in transportation infrastructure.

The Board will meet at 9:30 a.m. today at the Mohave County Administration Building's auditorium, 700 W. Beale St.

According to the resolution, HURF is the primary resource dedicated to state, county and municipal highway and road construction. It relies heavily on an 18-cent per gallon fuel tax that has not been raised since 1990 and is not indexed for inflation. That leads to a loss of purchasing power as the price of asphalt, rock product and heavy equipment has increased dramatically over the years.

Since 2009, the resolution continued, the situation has been made worse by the Legislature diverting more than $634 million in HURF revenue to fund state agencies. The 2014 state budget shifts $120 million from road activities to the state's general fund, impacting county transportation programs by nearly $21 million.

The reduced allocations from HURF to the counties has resulted in suspension of new construction, which has substantially decreased road maintenance activities and increased the designation of "primitive" roads, the resolution noted. The cuts also have hurt state and municipal transportation departments, it added, significantly compromising roads throughout the state and making them inadequate for future needs.

According to the County Supervisors Association of Arizona, which is encouraging all counties to sign similar resolutions and letters, lottery revenue began going to the counties in 1986. It was discontinued in 2011, when the allocation was $7.65 million. In 2013, the state legislature provided a one-time appropriation to counties under 200,000 residents. Because all counties in Arizona sell lottery tickets, the association is seeking a permanent allocation of the lottery revenue.

Also, the Sexually Violent Persons program is entirely operated by the state with no county consultation or fiscal oversight, noted the association. In 2010, the state required counties to pay a portion of the costs, which are currently set at 50 percent. To date, the shift has cost county taxpayers $17.1 million. In 2014, lawmakers extended a one-time appropriation to lower county costs by $1.8 million, reducing the counties' impact to about $4.4 million.

In other business, the Board will make a decision on whether to sell, improve or demolish Arnold Plaza, located at 301 and 303 Oak Street. The county offered the building at public auction Oct. 21 but no bids were received. The building, which was constructed in 1967 and once housed county employees, was vacated in 2005 with the opening of the administration building.

According to staff reports, remodeling the building for general office use would cost the county almost $2 million, mainly because no repairs or improvements have been done on it since the building closed. It would cost about $600,000 to demolish it. A "do-nothing" approach of holding onto the building until conditions are more favorable for selling it would cost about $200,000 for a roof replacement and painting the outside to keep water from coming in.

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