By Linda Kor–
With budget discussions underway, the Navajo County Board of Supervisors were presented with budget information May 24 for the various county departments, as well as an overview of the general fund revenues and expenditures.
County Manager Jimmy Jayne noted that the economy is showing signs of recovery, but there remains an uncertainty regarding continued cuts from the state in the coming year.
Jayne pointed out that Navajo County currently has the second lowest total primary tax rate in the state ahead of Coconino County and the third lowest combined tax rate, but indicated that funds generated from this tax rate may have not been enough to cover expenses.
With the current primary tax rate of 55.72 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, Jayne estimates a shortfall of $227,193 for the next fiscal year. He suggested the board consider an increase in the rate to 59.84 cents for fiscal year 2012, stating that would be sufficient to cover that deficit, bringing revenues over expenditures by $8,588.
“With the (current) rate it would be a challenge. We could see a three percent growth, the state has projected a five percent growth, but nobody really knows,” stated Jayne.
With one month left in the fiscal year, Jayne reported that for fiscal year 2010-11 the county is coming out approximately $48,000 in the black in the general fund.
Figures from the Finance Department show that for fiscal year 2011-12 general fund revenues are estimated at $28.7 million plus operating transfers of $2.2 million for a total of $30.9 million to fall in line with expenditures. Figures were also projected out to the 2012-13 fiscal year, with general fund revenues estimated at $29.1 million and additional financing sources estimated at $2.1 million for a total of $31.2 million, to fall in line with expenditures.
As department heads presented their proposed budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year, each showed no increase over the previous year’s budget and several showed a measure of cost savings.
Judge Michale Ruechel, presiding judge of the Superior Court, indicated a savings over the year of $62,000, and County Recorder Laurie Justman reported a total savings of $15,000 between the recorder’s office and elections.
State shared sales tax revenues are up this year from the previous year by 5.9 percent for a total of $814,689 shown through the month of May. This shows a gradual increase compared to 2008-09 revenues that came in at $752,473, then dropped in 2009-10 to $696,652, but still remains below the $930,262 received in 2007-08 by the same time in May.
Navajo County sales tax revenues show revenues of $466,239, again an improvement over the past two years, but not as high as the $564,690 received in May 2008.
Vehicle license tax revenues are continuing to decline with revenues through May showing $158,881, a three percent decrease from last year.
The board approved combining all election related functions under the authority of the county recorder in order to promote “economy, efficiency and public confidence.” As a result, the elections staff will now be seated at the recorder’s office, enabling all staff to be cross-trained in elections, voter registration and recorder functions.
According to Justman, the combining of the two departments will save an estimated $70,373 due to a reduction in force of two positions.
The board also approved a resolution to adopt fees charged by the local registrar for copies of vital records. The increase means a 100 percent increase for birth or death related certificates with a cost increase from $10 to $20. Establishing paternity, and amendments or corrections to birth and death certificates will increase from $23 to $30. Non-certified copies will increase from $3 to $5, and record search and putative (generally accepted) father registry will remain the same at $5. The increase was requested by the Navajo County Public Health Services District due to an increase in the surcharge being assessed to counties by the state, and a need to stay solvent and to be consistent with the state office and office of vital records in other counties.
In other action May 24, the board:
* Approved a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area grant agreement between the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office and the City of Tucson in the amount of $11,500 for the Native American Project for overtime and training opportunities on the reservations in Navajo County.
* Approved the current boundary lines being utilized by the Navajo County Community College District retroactive to May 31, 2002, for submission to the U.S. Department of Justice for retroactive preclearance.
* Approved a lease between the county and the Pinedale Pioneer Heritage Foundation for the Pinedale School building property recently purchased by the county at a cost of $1 per year.
* Awarded a $205,738 contract to Combs Construction Company Inc. for street improvements to the Hilltop Drive Improvement District located in Lakeside.
* Approved a renewal of contract with Little Colorado Regional Medical Center in Winslow for radiology services for suspected tuberculosis cases in the amount of $75 per x-ray.
* Approved an amendment to the special use permit for Waltner’s RV Park in the Show Low area for an expansion of spaces not to exceed 147, as well as additional amenities and electrical improvements.