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home : latest news : regional September 15, 2014

6/6/2012 10:53:00 AM
Davis wins as supervisors hash out details of budget

Scott Orr
Special to the Tribune

Chip Davis got his way Monday.

The Yavapai County Supervisor from district 3 has been arguing for weeks that the way they're dealing with the county budget doesn't give the Board of Supervisors the ability to examine departments' individual planned expenses.

As she has for the past few years, County Administrator Julie Ayers prepared a thick, line-by-line fiscal year 2012-13 proposed budget book, and also gave the board members a list of requests for expenses that exceeded the numbers from the current 2011-12 budget.

"The departments were asked to submit a budget that was the same as last year," Ayers said. "If last year, they had a $2 million budget, they have $2 million this year."

Davis was unhappy that the board was to look at the request list, but not go over the numbers contained in the book.

District 1 Supervisor Carol Springer's argued that it isn't their job to approve the details of each elected official's budget, but only to approve how much the department would get.

Referring to Assessor Pam Pearsall, whose budget has been Davis' example because the book is arranged alphabetically by department name, Springer asked, "If Ms. Pearsall's total budget is the same, are we going to tell her she can't spend the money as she wants?"

Springer and Chairman Tom Thurman, district 2, both turned and looked at Davis.

After a pause, he asked, "Would I embrace a budget process where you just do away with line items and give every department head a total amount of money?

"I don't think that's appropriate," he concluded.

The board went ahead with a modified plan: they made their changes to the list of requests above the current budget, but also questioned (but didn't cut) the line-item expenditures.

One of the first items to go was the plan to add two new assistant county managers; although the board approved it months ago, Davis said he had "buyer's remorse" after the vote. The board cut the funding to zero - saving $255,000 - and suggested that the new five-member board, to be elected this fall, decide if it wanted to pay for those two new positions.

Within a discussion of how court fines are paid, the topic of credit cards came up. Because credit card transactions typically cost the merchant a 2 to 3 percent surcharge, and the merchant - in this case, the county - typically absorbs that expense, Thurman noted that the county is losing money every time it accepts a credit card.

"All the departments need to start looking at (charging) a convenience fee for accepting credit cards," Thurman said.

Monday's look at the numbers was just the beginning, Ayers said. "Right now they're going through some preliminary decisions on whether some things should be in or out (of the budget) ... but then they're going to have to reconcile the numbers, because there's likely not enough money to go around."

The board finished about half of the department's budgets Monday afternoon; Ayers said a special meeting to get through the rest would likely be scheduled for next Monday.

Related Stories:
• County supervisors to go back to 'dog-and-pony show' budget process

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