Gila County Supervisors Michael Pastor, Tommie Cline Martin and John Marcanti, joined county officials from across the state at the Ninth Annual Legislative Summit of the County Supervisors Association (CSA) held Oct. 14-16 in Payson.
At the event, local leaders established a county policy agenda for the 2014 state legislative session and honored Governor Jan Brewer, who addressed the supervisors and shared her support for counties.
“We were thrilled to welcome Governor Brewer to the CSA summit,” CSA Third Vice President and Gila County Supervisor Tommie Cline Martin said.
“Governor Brewer’s strong leadership and support helped restore some vital resources taken by the state during the recession. She has been a great partner with county officials as we work to meet the needs of local residents.”
Speaking to the assembled group of county officials, Brewer thanked the supervisors for their praise and pledged to continue to work with them on the ongoing challenges facing the state.
Brewer highlighted her efforts on behalf of counties in recent years, stating, “Your support has been absolutely invaluable during our struggle over these past five years to overcome the recession we inherited, and I look forward to continuing that strong partnership.”
During the policy work sessions, the CSA board approved the top financial priorities of the association.
Specifically, CSA will ask the governor and legislators to take the following actions in the FY 2014-2015 state budget:
• Eliminate requirements for counties to fund incarceration and treatment of sexually violent persons housed at the Arizona State Hospital, returning that responsibility back to the state. Since 2009, the state has shifted a portion of the costs of this state function to help offset state revenue shortfalls. This policy has cost county taxpayers approximately $17.1 million to date.
• Re-establish the county share of lottery revenues to support county operations. For more than 20 years, counties received a share of lottery revenues to help fund local services. State lawmakers eliminated the county share in 2010 during the financial crisis, removing $7.65 million annually from local programs and services.
• Fully fund the Highway User Revenue Fund (HURF) for local governments. Since 2008, state action has diverted more than $314 million from municipal and county road building and maintenance resources to fund state government operations. Stopping this diversion going forward will restore more than $20.9 million annually to county street maintenance statewide.
CSA President and Yuma County Supervisor Lenore Stuart commented, “We are grateful for the recent progress state lawmakers have made addressing damaging policies enacted during the depths of the recession, but more work needs to be done. The CSA financial priorities represent good public policy and will deliver results for local communities. We are hopeful that they will be addressed in the state budget.”
In addition to the financial priorities, county officials evaluated the deteriorating condition of county transportation infrastructure and the weakening ability of existing resources to meet constituent needs. Recognizing a growing crisis that will impede economic development and threaten public safety on roadways, supervisors concluded that adequately funding the transportation system demands attention at the highest levels of state government. To this end, CSA adopted as a priority the need to call on state lawmakers to work with transportation stakeholders to identify and enact revenue enhancements for the existing HURF distribution system and to pursue policies that improve utilization of transportation resources.
CSA staff will begin briefing legislators on these matters in preparation for 2014 session.
Discussing the summit at the Oct. 22 meeting of the Gila County Board of Supervisors, Pastor, Martin and Marcanti all praised the county staff for the work it did in presenting the event, which was held at the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino and thanked the Tonto Apache Tribe and the hotel and casino staff for making such a great effort on behalf of the county.
They all also reported they had heard nothing but good things from their fellow supervisors from around the state about the event.
CSA is a non-partisan forum for Arizona’s 61 county supervisors to address important issues facing local constituents, providing a mechanism to share information and to advance a proactive state and federal policy agenda.