Gila County Picking Battles With State

Gila County Building in Payson

Gila County Building in Payson Photo by Andy Towle. |

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The new legislative session offers a high-stakes battleground pitting the finances of hard-pressed counties against the recovering state budget.

The Gila County Board of Supervisors worked with other counties to come up with a list of legislative priorities.

At a meeting Tuesday, Jan. 22, the supervisors prioritized its legislative to-do list.

The items of special interest to the board: County payments to the Arizona State Hospital for sexually violent prisoners; reinstatement of the counties’ share of state lottery revenue; and full funding of local Highway User Revenue Funds.

The loss of HURF gas tax money cost counties more than $94 million this year.

In addition, the counties had to come up with $87 million to pay the state hospital for treatment of local prisoners too mentally ill to stand trial for their crimes.

Gila County currently has no prisoners at the state hospital, however, last year it lost $550,000 in lottery money to the state and $342,000 in HURF money.

The counties will likely suffer other hits this year, so they need to get back the money the Legislature in the past few years has swept into state coffers to provide the mandated and necessary services for residents.

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