Mar 232011

By Tammy Gray-Searles —

“Our research is accurate as far as the documentation in existence,” Goldwater Institute Chief Economist Byron Schlomach said regarding a “piglet” report stating that Navajo County overspent by $3.5 million in fiscal year 2008-09.

Navajo County officials refuted the report, indicating that the document used by the Goldwater Institute was inaccurate.

Supervisor David Tenney explained, “What occurred was that the expenditure figures were accurate, however, an incomplete source for the budget, or revenue, figures was used. This source did not reflect all of the revenue available to the county departments. In simple terms, if a county department spent $500,000 and the incomplete budget figures showed revenue of only $400,000, it would appear that the department was a ‘piglet,’ which overspent by $100,000. If, in fact, the department had received grant revenue of $150,000 that was not included in the incomplete figures, then the department was actually operating well within its budget.”

According to Schlomach, he has not received any documentation showing that the record used by the Goldwater Institute in its report was not accurate.

“Our source is the State Auditor General’s Office,” he said. “I don’t know that we have any basis on which to issue a correction.”

Navajo County has not contacted the Goldwater Institute directly, according to Schlomach, and he questioned whether the document filed with the Auditor General’s office would be corrected if it is inaccurate.

“It is a problem with the issue of public information accuracy,” he said. “We’re not the ones who created it, but we are the ones who used it. I put all of this on them. If they were bothered enough to do a press release, it seems they could be bothered enough to let us know.”

Schlomach noted that the Goldwater Institute is committed to accurate research, and is making some corrections to the report, which covers spending by government entities across the state. He explained, however, that Goldwater would not be issuing any corrections regarding Navajo County’s spending unless proof is provided that the report was inaccurate.

“We just don’t have any other confirmation for it,” he said. “We have to have something more on which to base any kind of change.”

He went on to say, “That’s some of the problem in dealing with government. It seems the buck never stops. There’s always a way to justify everything.”