Supervisor Gould: extending temporary taxes ruins public trust
KINGMAN – Supervisor Buster Johnson wasn’t hopeful when, at the recent Mohave County Board of Supervisors meeting, he rose an issue of a possible extension of a sales tax introduced 20 years ago and recently used for such projects as the Adult Detention Center.
The tax put an extra quarter of a cent on local sales, about $7 million annually, which Johnson and Supervisor Gary Watson now would like to use to build a regional sheriff’s substation and a county morgue. They expressed their interest in extending the tax for one year to finance both facilities.
However, Supervisor Ron Gould declared zero interest in extending this tax, effectively killing the matter, since it requires a unanimous vote from the board.
“Twenty years ago when it was put on, it was put for a particular length of time,” Gould said. “The public has very little trust in politicians. When you levy a tax and you tell people it will end, it needs to end. And if we want to continue, we might put it back on the ballot, and see, if the voters are willing to tax themselves to do this. But to tell them: ‘We told you it’s going to be 20 years, but we decided: hey, let’s go 22.’ I just think that’s disingenuous and I’m not interested in doing that.”
Then, County Manager Mike Hendrix reminded the supervisors that “this particular tax that the board is contemplating today can’t be enacted by the vote of the people, but only by the vote of the supervisors. The supervisors cannot delegate their authority to the people here.”
“Until we get more information, I’m not committal,” said Chairwoman Hildy Angius. “I wouldn’t vote for more before the animal shelter. We need it more than the morgue. We have got to be very careful about that.”
Johnson felt a need to clarify to Gould that the only reason he suggested the extension is the fact that it will be less expensive than starting a new tax, which – if Johnson understands correctly – can be imposed for a minimum of 10 years. However, the finance department denied that such a minimum exists.
There was no action on the item. It seems that a morgue and a substation must wait.