Gila County’s state lobbying firm gave the Board of Supervisors a recap of the 2021 legislative session at its Oct. 5 meeting.

Policy Development Group provides legislative advocacy at the local and state level for programs, projects, and legislation that is of interest and affects Gila County such as cost shifts, water, forest issues, and broadband.

Hired in January 2021, the firm was given the following list of priorities that the county wanted followed:

• Forestry

• Water

• Transportation

• Blight

• Infrastructure, including broadband

• Property tax revenue distribution

• Liquor licenses

• Rural school budget issues

• Expenditure limitation on half-cent sales tax

COVID-19 and two massive fires in southern Gila County and the flooding that followed with the robust 2021 monsoon shifted some of those priorities.

The most immediate benefit came from the special session regarding addressing the Mescal and Telegraph Fires.

• $100 million was allocated for statewide fire and forest health efforts.

• $4.33 million (so far) of that came to Gila County starting June 16, 2021; with $291,000 going to Globe and $188,000 going to Miami.

Budget benefits to the area included $5 million for the Heritage Fund, which benefits state parks; $75 million for broadband statewide; $700,000 for an SR 88 study on vegetation and design report; and $1.2 million for improvements to the Hill Street corridor in Globe.

As for the 2022 Legislative Session, Todd Baughman said the following are items his firm will watch closely on behalf of Gila County:

• Forest health

• Rural schools funding

• Broadband

• Legislative and federal redistricting

• Federal stimulus

• Transportation projects

District 1 Supervisor Steve Christensen asked Baughman if the state is likely to get any additional congressional seats based on the 2020 census numbers.

Baughman said it is not likely Arizona will add to its 9-member delegation.

Other business

• The supervisors approved a Memorandum of Understanding between Gila County through the Gila County Sheriff’s Office and Mutualink, Inc. for a Multimedia Interoperable Communications System. The pilot program provides better, secure communication through multiple devices.

• The BOS accepted a $25,000 grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety STEP (Selective Traffic Enforcement Program) to support the GCSO’s speed enforcement activities. Of that, $17,857 is for overtime salary and $7,143 is for employee-related expenses.

• The supervisors approved a $138,349.10 (paid for by the Highway User Revenue Fund) contract with Allen Equipment & Services for two new Trimble R12 Globe Navigation Satellite Systems for surveys.

The current survey equipment being used is 14 years old and was purchased with grant funds. The equipment has become obsolete and is no longer supported by a vendor since it is two generations out of date.

Public Works Director Steve Sanders said, “These types of survey-grade GNSS receivers are the most accurate. They are accurate to within a centimeter so we can excel in high accuracy measurements of fixed positions.”

The other equipment will be disposed of, as the parts are not compatible with the newer equipment.

• The BOS approved a $500,000 purchase through Hewlett Packard Enterprise, replacement hardware-software as part of the county’s 5-year refresh plan for its server hardware/software environment.

The county maintains more than 120 virtual servers on an aging hardware platform of four physical servers and two storage arrays that are interconnected to share resources. The current environment is now five years old and is almost out of resources and growth potential.

To meet the future needs of the county, staff believes there is a need for more storage space in the new equipment, as well as increased size in memory and processors to drive the virtual servers. The new equipment will provide the county with more than four times the current storage, as well as four times the memory.

Contact the reporter at tmcquerrey@payson.com

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