By Nick Worth
When Navajo County department heads presented their tentative budgets for 2014 at the first budget hearing during the May 28 board of supervisors meeting, several made the case for an increase in their funding.
Most notable was County Attorney Brad Carlyon.
“Justice is one of the fundamental services a government provides,” Carlyon told the board. He noted that four years ago there were 19 prosecutors in his office, but that the number has dwindled down to 13. He said that instead of hiring replacements, he has taken the salaries from departing attorneys to give raises to those remaining.
“A year from now I may be on my knees begging you for enough money,” Carlyon told the board. “Which cases do I stop prosecuting next year in order to save money? Rapists, DUIs and burglars need to go to prison.
“The judges are all carrying over 100 cases,” Carlyon said.
He noted that in some cases those on trial can be helped and mentioned an early resolution court to handle pleas to clear cases.
“I think I’ve met my budget goals that have been set for me,” Carlyon said. “I think I can still do a good job this year. Next year, I don’t know.”
According to a preliminary expense budget provided by County Finance Director James Menlove, the County Attorney’s Office is tentatively set to received $2,220,666 from the General Fund, with an additional $3,358,878 from special revenue and other funds, for a total of $5,579,544.
The Public Works Department had the largest proposed budget of any department in the county with over $16 million, because it is the largest in size with the most cost-intensive responsibilities. All public works monies are taken entirely from special revenues and other funds.
“Typically, ‘special revenue and other funds’ refers to grants,” said County Manager James Jayne. “Public works gets all of its funding through the Highway User Revenue Fund (HURF), vehicle license tax monies and money from the Navajo County Flood Control District.”
Navajo County Assessor Cammy Darris told the board her department runs only on monies from the general fund with no secondary funds and proposed a budget total of $1,346,187. She told the board 78 percent of the Assessor’s Office budget is personnel costs. The remaining 22 percent goes toward operating expenses, such as the fuel costs of six vehicles being driven approximately 1,000 miles per month each, which adds up to $16,320 in fuel per year.
Some of the other amounts tentatively budgeted from the general fund include:
* Recorder, $281,362. Salaries and wages account for $163,622 of that total.
* Voter Registration, $234,694, of which $105,384 goes toward salaries.
* Elections, $565,092 total, with $52,252 in salaries. Professional services accounted for $337,700 of the elections budget.
* Public Fiduciary, $1,118,482.
* Legal Defender, $2,220,666.
* Superior Court, $1,032,853. Presiding Judge Michala Ruechel told the board she has slashed her department’s budget by over $371,000.
* Public Defender, $1,365,121.
* Jail Operations, $3,174,510. The Sheriff’s Office is working to try to secure a contract from the Arizona Department of Corrections (DOC) to house DOC inmates. If awarded, those funds will help to alleviate budget shortfalls, Menlove told the board.
* Sheriff, $5,409,981.
* Indigent Health, $3,398,400.
* Facilities Management, $1,965,832, with no secondary funding sources.
* Board of Supervisors and Administration, $2,495,809.
Departments receiving no monies from the general fund, and all their funding from special revenues and other funds include:
* Navajo County Library District, $573,109.
* Health District, $4,342,699.
* Public Works, $16,292,055.
* Flood Control District, $8,997,225.
* Capital Projects, $10,500,000.
* Workforce Investment Act (WIA), $1,147,090.
Menlove said there is not yet a tentative total available for the county’s budget. He also stressed that he, or the board of supervisors, can change the amounts quoted.
“Please note that these amounts were used only as the basis for discussion at the budget hearings (May 28), and that these amounts could change significantly before the preliminary budget is adopted June 25 and final adoption on July 23,” Menlove wrote in an e-mail to The Tribune-News.
By Nick Worth