County Budget Includes Salary Increases For Staff

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To John Nelson, the most critical thing in this year's Gila County budget is what is not in the budget.

"We did not address the jails," said the deputy county manager. "They are out-of-date, overcrowded and labor intensive and will need to addressed in one way or another. They're going to keep coming up."

But those problems won't be solved this year within the confines of Gila County's approved $75.2 million 2006-2007 budget.

The board of supervisors approved the budget Aug. 1.

It includes approximately $800,000 for salary adjustments, said John Nelson, deputy county manager. He said the raises will bring county wages more in line with state averages, but will not be finalized until later this month.

The delay is due to a review of about 15 positions to be certain they were categorized correctly. The study that resulted in the increase was done by the firm Public Sector. The representative that has been working with the county is out-of-state and will not return until later in the month with the results of the review.

"We expect to have increases go into effect for the first payroll in September," Nelson said. He said that is when the original schedule for the project had the raises slated to start.

Nelson said the only change between the tentative budget approved in mid-July and the final version was a slight allocation adjustment in judicial services, however, it did not change the bottom line.

In finalizing the budget, the board of supervisors also approved the countywide tax rate of $5.56 per $100 of assessed valuation, which is a 22-cent decrease from the 2005-2006 rate of $5.78. This rate does not include the rates property owners will pay for their various individual districts (fire, school, sanitary, street light, water, municipalities). Nelson said those rates will be set Aug. 21.

The countywide rate includes primary property taxes, school equalization costs established by the Arizona Legislature, the community college, library district and fire district assistance.

Both the primary property tax rate and the school equalization costs were reduced resulting in the 22-cent drop in the countywide tax (per $100 of assessed valuation), Nelson said.

The county's tax rate is down, but property assessments have increased, he said. Last year the assessed value in Gila County was $388 million, this year it is $401 million, an increase of $13.3 million of 3.44 percent, Nelson said. Still the total countywide levy will be down by about $100,980.

"Remember, this is only what the county is assessing, it doesn't include all the special and individual districts and towns," Nelson said.

The county's budget appropriations are as follows:

  • General fund, $36.6 million
  • Library district, $944,987
  • Road fund, $18.2 million
  • Internal service fund, $2.3 million
  • Enterprise funds, $2.6 million
  • Capital improvements, $1.4 million
  • Debt service, $314,000
  • Special revenue funds, $21.1 million
  • Agency funds, $9,965

There is $85.52 million in available revenue coming from money not spent in 2005-2006, property taxes, grants and other sources. Of that $8.3 million is transferred out for such things as the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) and long-term care for indigents, Gila Community College, computer services, the Drug Task Force and a few other programs.

The departments included in the general fund's budget are: General government, $5.9 million; law enforcement (which includes the county attorney's office),$10.1 million; judicial services, $7.2 million; health, welfare and sanitation, $3.6 million; education and recreation, $611,373; and the transfers previously listed.

The road fund, which receives revenues from licenses and permits, a half-cent sales tax, the Highway User Fees and other state and federal sources, is used for:

  • Administrative services, $1.2 million
  • Engineering services, $1.2 million
  • Road maintenance and repair, $4.8 million
  • Survey department, $449,488
  • Maintenance shops, $1.4 million
  • Capital improvements, $4.4 million
  • Emergency reserve, $4.7 million

-- To reach Teresa McQuerrey call 474-5251 ext. 113 or e-mail tmcquerrey@payson.com.

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