Board OKs Pima County budget with tax increase

2014-06-18T00:00:00Z 2014-06-18T10:38:18Z Board OKs Pima County budget with tax increaseBy Jamar Younger Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The Board of Supervisors adopted Pima County’s 2014-15 budget Tuesday, but the county will not distribute some of the money until certain departments can justify their need for the funds.

The $1.18 billion budget includes a 62-cent increase per $100 of assessed value in the primary property tax rate.

For the owner of a $146,000 home — the average for Pima County — the tax increase will cost just over $90 a year.

The board approved the budget 3-2, with Republican Supervisors Ray Carroll and Ally Miller voting against the measure.

The board directed county officials to put about $24 million from the budget into a contingency fund, instead of as slated for the sheriff’s and information-technology departments, indigent defense services, road repair and other items. The money would have been supplements to the regular budgets for those departments.

Those departments will now have to show they have a legitimate need for the money. Officials will have to justify those needs in writing before submitting the requests to County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, who will make recommendations to the board.

The decision to stash the money in the contingency fund, which is known as a budget tax rate stabilization fund, was part of an effort from the Board of Supervisors to hold the departments more accountable.

The board also demanded county departments stop working independently of one another and start streamlining their operations to become more efficient.

Some departments, such as the Sheriff’s Department and indigent defense services, have overspent their budgets in recent years, which led to the tax increase.

County officials previously said those departments incurred cost overruns because their expenses increased while the budgets stayed the same.

County employees were approved for a 50-cent per hour raise, but each department will have to use money from its own budget. As a result, county officials will work with each department to determine which ones can afford to give the raises.

The board’s vote also included approval of a $1.75 million down payment on 167 acres of property near the Kino Sports Complex.

The county wants to join the land with the sports complex to create a regional soccer facility. The property is bordered by East Benson Highway, South Kino Parkway, East Irvington Road and Interstate 10.

Contact reporter Jamar Younger at jyounger@azstarnet.com or 573-4242. On Twitter @JamarYounger

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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