On May 9, 2005, I wrote Joe Sanchez with an analysis comparing Gila County with 11 other rural counties. The gist of this was, that on the basis of expenditures per capita, Gila County was the second highest spending county at $1,033 per capita per annum.
The other counties ranged from Navajo at $391 to Greenlee at $1,250 per capita per annum.
Another area of concern was the fact that Gila County's cost per capita had increased 34.2 percent in the preceding six years, while national inflation had only increased 10.3 percent in the same period.
These figures indicated, to me, that Gila County was financially out of control. I suggested that Gila County form a task force to study Navajo, Mojave, Yuma, and Graham counties, as they all seemed to have better control of their costs than Gila County did.
As far as I know, such a task force was never utilized.
Anyhow, I recently returned to ATRA, the source of the 2005 figures, and updated the study, for the past two years. There is good news and bad news.
The good news is that the elected officials in Gila County have done a better job than any other county in keeping a lid on increasing costs for the past two years. Gila County's costs per capita only increased .3 percent in the past two years, while other counties increased from 6.0 percent (Cochise) to 35.4 percent (Pinal).
The other good news, for Gila County, is that because of out of control spending in Pinal and La Paz counties, Gila County has improved two positions, and is now only the fourth highest spending rural county in Arizona.
The bad news is that Gila County is still spending $1,063 per year for every man, woman and child in Gila County.
Seven counties furnish the same services that Gila County does for less than $900 per year, and four of them for under $700 per year. It seems to me that we still have something to learn from these counties.
Particularly Graham County, right next door. Graham County apparently satisfies their citizens for $613 per year.
If Gila County did as well, its citizens would have over $24 million per year in their pockets, a sizable amount of change.
As Gila County embarks on an extended study of additional capital needs, in order to satisfy perceived needs of certain citizens, it is well that we keep the above statistics in mind.
Dan Adams, Payson