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Jobs still hang in the balance after the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors reallocated county sales tax and voted to return project money.

The board voted 2-1 on Jan. 20 to accept a proposal that redistributes funds collected from the county’s one-half-cent sales tax and converts the capital project program to pay-as-you-go. District 1 Supervisor Carol Springer voted against the proposal.

By Trista Steers

Larson Newspapers

 

Jobs still hang in the balance after the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors reallocated county sales tax and voted to return project money.

The board voted 2-1 on Jan. 20 to accept a proposal that redistributes funds collected from the county’s one-half-cent sales tax and converts the capital project program to pay-as-you-go. District 1 Supervisor Carol Springer voted against the proposal.

County staff with the help of the board chair, District 2 Supervisor Tom Thurman, prepared the proposal with calls for across-the-board department cuts accompanied by shifting of revenue. The sales tax will be split among the general fund, capital projects program and road improvements.

“Everybody has to come up with 7.5 percent [in cuts],” Thurman said. The plan calls on each department except development services to contribute to trimming the deficit by eliminating 7.5 percent of its budget. Development services must cut by 25 percent.

Springer said department cuts are the wrong way to go and the idea that nobody is going to get hurt simply isn’t true.

“We’re going to end up losing jobs one way or another,” Springer said.

Davis said he’d like to see the county come up with a way to save money without cutting positions. County employees shouldn’t have to worry about losing their jobs. The county spent the 18 months prior to the economic downturn recruiting the best employees from all over the country and he doesn’t want to lose them now.

Layoffs aren’t what Thurman wants either, he said, but he can’t make any promises.

“I’m not going to micromanage these departments,” Thurman said. If department heads feel they have to lay people off to meet the 7.5 percent cut, it’s up to them to make the decision.

Davis agreed the board does not have the knowledge to make cuts within departments. Department heads are best suited for the task.

Departments that already made cuts or implemented hiring freezes will get credit for those, Thurman said.

Accompanying departmental cuts, the proposal shifts 50 percent of county sales tax to the general fund, 30 percent to the capital projects program and 20 percent to the Regional Road Program effective Sunday, March 1.

The change includes a $3 million shift in reserves to the general fund for fiscal year 2008-09 and $7.2 million for FY 2009-10.

The revenue shift, closure of the Yavapai County Jail in Prescott and 7.5 percent departmental cuts will allow the county to balance its general fund budget, Ayers said.

In the capital projects program, the county will revert from borrowing money to fund improvements to a pay-as-you-go policy with 30 percent of sales tax revenues allocated to this fund.

Changing philosophies requires the county to return $50 million, which incurs $500,000 in prepayment penalties, according to the proposal.

It’s irresponsible for the county to go out for a loan now, Thurman said.

Springer, however, said returning the loan is a short-term reaction. At the end of next year the county won’t have any money left in reserves and it will take five years to build projects on the new schedule.

The county’s road program will see 20 percent of the sales tax slowing the pace of construction but allowing the county to make debt payments on Highway 260 and continue planning for

the future, according to the proposal.

 

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