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Thu, Sept. 19

Supervisors to mull closing Prescott jail, how to spend sales tax, $50 million

Illustration by The Daily Courier

Illustration by The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT - The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors Monday starts the New Year with a lengthy agenda.

The board could make decisions on several items that would change the board's philosophy and direction of how it spends taxpayers' money for the remainder of fiscal year 2008-09 and for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts July 1.

Because of the complexity of some of the agenda items, the board took the unusual step of dividing the meeting into a morning and afternoon session. The first meeting starts at 9 a.m. in the supervisors hearing room, 1015 Fair St., Prescott, during which the board discusses the bulk of the agenda items.

Then, starting at 1 p.m., the board returns to discuss and possibly decide three items that could have a significant impact on the economic health of the county: whether the board should close the Prescott Detention Center (jail) on Gurley St.; how the board spends the $14.5 million it gets from the half-cent sales tax; and how to spend the $50 million lease-purchase loan that it signed in April.

The county started fiscal year 2008-09 with $82 million in the general fund budget. However, County Administrator Julie Ayers expects to have only about $68 million for the general fund in the 2009-10 budget.

The jail district is currently $3.4 million in debt, and Ayers expects that amount to be $4.5 million for the 2009-10 budget. Sheriff Steve Waugh told county officials in December that the county could save $2.4 million by closing the Prescott jail and moving the inmates to the Camp Verde Detention Center.

If the board closes the Prescott jail, the board could vote to move the juvenile detention center from its present location on Division Street into the vacant jail.

With regards to the half-cent sales tax, the board spends 60 percent on its regional roads projects and 40 percent on capital improvement projects. The county currently has $22 million in its regional roads account, $13.6 million in its capital improvements account, $14 million in capital reserves and $7 million in a contingency account.

The board controls how that money is spent.

Board Chairman Tom Thurman wrote four different plans on ways the county could scale-back or modify its construction projects and how it could shuffle money to pay for the plans.

The board signed the $50 million loan to start building a new juvenile detention center and county offices along Prescott Lakes Parkway; a new Superior Courthouse in Camp Verde; a sheriff's impound yard and evidence storage building in Prescott Valley; and to remodel the Prescott Detention Center and county buildings on Commerce Drive in Prescott.

Thurman's least expensive plan would cost $12.9 million and entails building only the Camp Verde Courthouse and the Sheriff's evidence building. The most expensive plan would be to build all the county projects, which would cost about $76.8 million. Three plans in the middle eliminate some projects and would cost from $25.9 million to $48.2 million.

The costs depend on which projects get built and how much money the board spends from the sales tax, $50 million loan, and the contingency and reserve moneys.

The complete agenda and background information may be read and downloaded at

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