Supervisor Votes No, Says Numbers Don't Add Up

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A split vote, 2-1, gave Gila County a $66.21 million budget for 2005-2006. District 3 Gila County Supervisor Shirley Dawson voted against the budget. She said she dissented primarily over her concerns of funding the Industrial Development Authority. She said its corporate papers filed with the state show it has $450,000 in assets and the county shows only $130,000 on the books.

"I don't question the purpose of the IDA," Dawson said, "But when they can't account for the funds already there, I do have a question."

She said she took her concerns to acting County Manager Steve Besich and interim Deputy County Manager John Nelson before the budget came to the supervisors.

"I was first told by Nelson that the (additional) funds were on deposit at the Bank of Washington and would be transferred into the general fund," Dawson said. "Then Besich said they were with Bank One. Now, Besich has said when Asarco sold to Grupo de Mexico, the payments stopped, but the company has promised to bring the payments up to date, and in fact were making a payment of between $100,000 and $105,000 the day the budget was approved (Aug. 2)."

The money from Asarco (now Grupo de Mexico) was to pay off $71.9 million in bonds the IDA secured in 1998 to help the mining company mitigate an environmental issue, Dawson said. The agreement was for Asarco to pay $250,000 to the IDA the first year and then $45,000 each year for the 20-year course of the bond.

"The money has been coming in, but apparently it has not been checked," Dawson said.

The IDA was allocated $45,000 in the 2005-2006 county budget, with $50,000 carried over, she said.

The next step in the county's budget process is a certification of the tax rate by the supervisors, said Nelson. This is planned for a special meeting Aug. 15. The county's rate is $4.41 per $100 of assessed valuation, but the tax rate will also include levies to fund special districts, as well as cities.

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