With lobbyists like Triadvocates, who needs enemies in the Legislature? Triadvocates, who has a contract to assist Gila Community College in its efforts to secure funding and other legislative items which will benefit the college, touted its accomplishments at a recent board meeting.
Triadvocates was proud that it secured $80,000 in workforce development money for GCC, while other colleges around the state got at least $280,000. And that $80,000 does not even go directly to GCC; it goes to Eastern Arizona College, which it so happens Triadvocates also represents. EAC presumably gets 25 percent of that $80,000 just for touching the money.
Gila Community College, with the help of Sen. Sylvia Allen, was asking for its fair share of the workforce money along with legislation that would have allowed GCC to move away from being a provisional college.
Opposition from other community colleges, which presumably included EAC, forced the Legislature to amend the workforce legislation. So was Triadvocates being asked to work for GCC or EAC?
Rim Country residents pay the same tax as do all state residents to support workforce funds. Six-tenths of 1 percent of the overall statewide sales tax revenue is divided up amongst elementary to college districts. Yet, the college portion of the tax that Gila County residents pay for the most part goes to other colleges around the state.
The other key item being touted by the GCC lobbyist includes helping to push through a way for the school to achieve independence, part of which means separating itself from the 25 percent service fee it pays on every dollar to Eastern Arizona College. Even that legislation did not go quite as planned, but in the end, GCC will be able to set its own course.
Mike Gardner, who is the lobbyist for Triadvocates, told the GCC board, “None of the other state community colleges have this record of passing bills to move their agenda forward.”
He is right — none of the other community colleges had to give up $200,000 to get $80,000. It was not even a question asked of the other community colleges.
We see a severe conflict between Triadvocates representing both EAC and GCC. The best interests of both schools are not necessarily in the best interest of GCC. We don’t think that one lobbyist can represent both EAC and GCC when the schools have competing interests.
No end to government spending
Unemployment is high, property tax values drop, sales tax revenue remains depressed — in fact, nearly all revenue sources for government spending remain flat — yet towns, school districts, counties, the federal government and state government have started to raise spending once again.
Our elected federal legislators and president certainly cannot figure out how to balance a budget that is crushing the economy with a growing debt load. They just keep on borrowing from China and Middle Eastern countries.
The town of Star Valley just approved a $7.6 million budget, which is $2.8 million more than what was adopted last year. The town of Payson has adopted a general fund budget somewhere between 18 and 23 percent higher than last year’s budget, depending on how you look at the numbers, based on projected revenue estimates, which include increases over the current year’s income.
In Star Valley’s case, the town has more money coming in than it will spend, which is good news and a rarity for town governments these days — they have a $1.2 million rainy day fund and another $1.5 million set aside for miscellaneous capital projects, not yet completely defined. That could include the purchase of an RV park and apartments next to property it already owns. The town council does not need more money to fund day-to-day activities.
Payson, on the other hand, had to borrow $1 million from its water department fund last year, which it cannot yet pay back, to keep its books balanced. Nonetheless, it wants to staff a third fire station built with dedicated bond money instead of using Hellsgate Fire Department on a contractual basis for service. This third fire station staffing boosts the fire department substantially and includes the hiring of three new firefighters.
The exact numbers are hard to figure out as town officials say the numbers in the version of the general fund budget posted on the town’s Web site don’t reflect the real spending increases. In accordance with state law, the figures include grants the town might not actually receive.
Government always seems to have an ever-increasing need — no matter what is happening to taxpayers’ income, property values, sales tax revenues or whatever the funding source.
It seems to us the balance is being lost somewhere in the shuffle of government’s never-ending appetite for spending and the ability of taxpayers to keep paying for all the new and “needed” government services.