The county’s “to do” list for 2014 is staggering — and many of the items have a June 30 deadline. That means the Gila County Board of Supervisors, other elected officials and staff need to stock up on energy bars and turbo-charged energy drinks.
Just getting through the list took County Manager Don McDaniel the better part of a 90-minute work session Jan. 28.
Called the 2014 Strategic Blueprint, the list offered the board a glimpse of issues that will figure into the budget discussions and a look at matters that might need to be dealt with in the course of the coming year.
“It is an attempt to be consistent with the county’s adopted strategic plan,” McDaniel said.
The lion’s share of the issues relate to implications for the 2014-2015 budget.
• First among these is whether or not voters approve continuing the half-cent transportation tax. Should continuation win approval, the working proposal is for the county to keep half the revenue generated and split the other half between the county’s incorporated communities.
Presently the tax, which expires December 2014, generates about $3 million, all of which the county keeps. With it the county funds roadwork and some related salaries. Success at the polls means the county would have only $1.5 million covering those expenses.
Whether the measure succeeds or fails at the polls means the county needs a contingency plan, McDaniel said.
“Will the county’s half be just for county projects?” Supervisor John Marcanti asked.
McDaniel asked Public Works Director Steve Stratton to respond.
“The majority will be used in the unincorporated areas of the county, but we’ll work with incorporated areas if a project is mutually beneficial,” Stratton said.
• Another big impact on the budget: the completion and implementation of a Classification and Compensation Study. The county contracted in early 2013 with a consultant to determine whether its employees’ jobs have the appropriate classification (step/ grade) and the salaries are reasonable and comparable to similar positions in other counties and agencies.
The study is nearing completion, McDaniel said. In the best case scenario implementation might start in May, but it is more likely changes won’t start going into effect until July 2014.
He reminded the board that money has been budgeted to start implementation in the current fiscal year, but it can be carried forward to 2014-2015 if the changes are delayed.
The actual amount needed for full implementation of any recommended changes is not known now, but the cost will be established by the FY14-15 budget adoption date.
• Other issues related to staff costs McDaniel asked the board to keep in mind is the annual performance appraisals and performance payments and the likelihood of health insurance cost increases.
The performance appraisals, covering July 2013 through June 2014 are due June 15, with one-time lump performance payments made June 30. McDaniel said the Classification and Compensation Study might change that.
The supervisors pointed out that taking away the performance payment now might be hard to do since the employees could be counting on it.
Assistant County Manager Jacque Griffin reported to the supervisors it looks like insurance may go up by 6 percent. She said the exact changes would be known in mid-February.
• Additional budget impacts are possible due to acquiring and selling county properties; improvements to county security; upgrades for technology; and the possible resurrection of a countywide economic development program.
Taking up another big portion of the county’s “to do” list is work with federal, state and other agencies on the following:
• Tonto Creek Bridge funding
• Four Forest Restoration Initiative implementation
• Resolution Copper land exchange
• Restoration of Payment in Lieu of Taxes funding
• Tri-City Regional Sanitary District (a wastewater solution for Globe and Miami)
• Gray Wolf endangered species issue
• Forest Plan
• Secure Rural Schools funding
• Water Infrastructure Finance Authority and the proposal to give it oversight of the Rural Water Supply Act, which could potentially complicate securing needed funding to complete the C.C. Cragin (Blue Ridge) pipeline project in Northern Gila County
• Healthy counties
• Criminal justice efficiency
• Workforce Development funding
• Completion of East Highway 260 improvements through the Lion Springs area east of Star Valley