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Sun, Oct. 13

• Yavapai County

It has taken many hours of discussions and reams of paper, but the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors has received a balanced budget proposal for fiscal year 2005-06.

County Administrator Jim Holst presented the supervisors with a proposed budget of more than $198 million on Wednesday. The proposed budget is 9 percent more than the fiscal year 2004-05 budget amount of $181.7 million.

The proposed budget includes 29.5 new employees, 28.5 of them paid for with General Fund money. Seven of the new positions are in the Development Services Department and will be paid for with department revenues. The only new countywide position is a maintenance worker in the Road Department that Highway User Revenue Fund (HURF) money will pay for.

As of April 13 the county staff included 1,417 full-time employees, 58 part-time employees and 205 temporary employees.

The proposed budget includes $2.11 million for a 4.6 percent salary range adjustment (cost of living) for county employees. The increase reflects a 1.6 percent increase in employee contributions to the Arizona State Retirement System.

Holst said there is a major change in the budget this year.

"For the first time we are splitting $3 million in fleet management cost among the departments. It will be rough the first year, but it will show the real costs of doing business," the administrator said.

The proposed budget includes $12 million for capital improvement (building) projects.

Holst said the county would be adding $6 million to the $6 million carry over for capital improvements. He said the county is proposing an aggressive capital improvement project.

"If the county hires an architect, it will spend $6 million this year for services. If so, we will start next year with $6 million we have not budgeted to spend, but we are going to need more," Holst said.

At the top of the list for capital improvements are new facilities for adult and juvenile detention and the court systems in both Prescott and Camp Verde.

Holst said the board is considering a change in the distribution of the county half-cent sales tax. He has proposed a 50-50 distribution between regional roads and capital improvements.

The county administrator said that even though property taxes are remaining the same, the county must conduct a "truth in taxation" hearing. He said the law requires a hearing when the increase of levy (market value) money is more than the levy collected from new construction values.

"The county is growing so quickly," Holst said. "Yavapai County has a population growth of 4.5 percent a year. In the 1980s, the population was about 68,000, and today it is 200,000."

Holst said elected officials and department heads would receive copies of the proposed budget late this past week. He said they will have until the June 6 supervisors meeting to review their budgets. At that time, department officials will have the opportunity to present their case for any program changes that are no longer in the budget.

On June 6, the supervisors are expected to talk about the capital improvement projects, the division of the county half-cent sales tax, and the utilization of county vehicles.

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