Tax Hikes Kept Out Of County Budget

No room for raises in $49.48 million budget

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Gila County officials have developed a proposed $49.48 million budget that's 4 percent higher than last year's, and they've figured out how to fund it without a tax increase.

But there's a cost just below the surface, Gila County Administrator Steve Besich said. Not a single nonelected Gila County employee will be budgeted for a raise this year.

"The tax rate will remain stable not up, not down," he said. "That's the way the county supervisors want it; that's the way the taxpayers like it.

"(But) I feel like the captain of the Titanic. Nobody remembers all of the smooth crossings you've made. They only remember that you hit the iceberg."

The three-man Gila County Board of Supervisors will consider adopting the proposed budget at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday, July 18 in the supervisors' meeting room at 1400 East Ash Street in Globe.

"The only employees who will see an increase are elected officials," Chief Fiscal Officer John Nelson said, "but that's according to statute. When they're elected in November, they'll see a slight increase in their salaries."

"Those elected positions include the sheriff, county supervisors, county recorder, county attorney, etc.," Besich said. "Department heads aren't getting a salary boost, either."

For people who aren't making salaries at all Gila County's unemployed Nelson said the county has set aside a little more than $1.8 million to help. That money will be used for retraining or relocating out-of-work people, he said.

"That says a lot about our economy," he said, "when that much of the budget is for unemployment."

"That's kind of a sad commentary," Besich agreed. "Gila County is just not experiencing the same kind of growth the rest of the nation is."

Two departments will have slightly bigger budgets this year elections and juvenile detention.

"Since this is an election year, the election department budget is up $135,000 over last year," Nelson said.

The increase in the juvenile detention budget is due to the new juvenile detention center that was built in Globe.

"A lot of that increase around $300,000 over last year is operating costs," Nelson said. He said Gila County Judge Robert Duber will try to recapture some of that cost by renting out half of the beds to other jurisdictions, such as the federal government and other counties.

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