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8:02 PM Tue, July 17th

Supervisors likely to approve $80.5M budget

The Yavapai County supervisors Monday will likely approve an $80.5 million general fund budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year.

While the supervisors plan no tax increases, residents may see their taxes rise anyway because other taxing entities, such as Yavapai College, can raise rates. The county has economized during these lean times by freezing hiring and wages, said county Administrator Julie Ayers. County employees have not received pay raises for three years. The supervisors also reduced the subsidy for employee health insurance from 45 percent to 25 percent.

Property taxes pay for 44 percent of the county budget with another 21 percent coming from state shared sales taxes. Fifty-two percent of the budget goes toward the courts and law enforcement.

The board adopted the tentative budget on July 6 and Ayers said circumstances have remained the same since then.

The tax rate will be 1.3524, including increased construction.

The board will also consider an intergovernmental agreement that could lead to reopening of Jerome State Historic Park this fall. Under the pact, the county would pay $30,000 to the Arizona State Parks Board to run the park, a mining museum in the 100-year-old Douglas Mansion. A separate agreement would allow the Jerome Historical Society operate the gift shop and the visitor contact desk.

Previously, county officials inked agreements to keep Fort Verde State Park and Red Rock State Park open by contributing $30,000 to each and marshaling volunteers. State officials targeted the parks for closure because of state budget cuts. The parks generate $266 million for rural Arizona and attract about 2.3 million visitors annually.

In other business, the supervisors will discuss the Great Western Corridor Feasibility Study final report. The study calls for a new road in the area of Glassford Hill to connect Route 89 to Route 89A east of the Prescott Airport. The county began the feasibility study in 2008 to address previous proposals and provide an environmental analysis of the road. The county Public Works Department presented the study to the supervisors in April. If the board accepts the study, the county and the state Department of Transportation can use it for planning purposes.

Also Monday, the board will consider a request for formation of the Juniper Woods Volunteer Fire District in the Ash Fork area. The proposal calls for a full service fire district, including emergency medical services, within five years. While emergency vehicles based nearby would be able to respond more swiftly, property taxes would increase to pay for the new district.