Since Gila County has such a limited amount of private property — only about 3% — the federal government makes up for lost tax revenue by providing Secure Rural Schools and Communities Funds (Forest Fees).

The funds are divided between roads (2.16%), schools (77.92%), and the Gila County Education Service Agency (19.92%).

According to Gila County Superintendent of Schools Roy Sandoval, at this time, the amount to be received is unknown — it usually arrives in June. However, to get it into the recipient coffers as fast as possible, his office asked the Gila County Board of Supervisors to approve a percentage allocation formula now rather than waiting for receipt of the funds and then distributing them.

The percentages reflect the dollar amounts received in the past by roads, schools and the Gila County Education Service Agency. The formula used for many years relied on a base amount for each school combined with the number of students enrolled and the amount of federal land within each school district’s boundaries.

The supervisors approved the percentage formula as requested.

In other financial matters:

The latest tracking information on the county’s 2020-21 budget shows that it has enjoyed an increase in revenues and a drop in expenditures. The information given the BOS March 16 compares figures for 2020-21 to those of 2019-20.

The biggest increases in revenue were seen from property taxes, due to higher centrally assessed values — $1.7 million; non-business licenses and permits — $81,550; Auto Lieu Tax — $210,173; State Shared Sales Tax — $252,170; miscellaneous — $305,775.

The county’s expenditures for 2020-21 are $950,985.51 lower than in 2019-20.

Presenting the information to the board, Maryn Belling, budget manager, said, “The net impact of increased revenues and decreased expenses result in a year-to-date net increase to the bottom line of $3,017,566 compared to last year.”

The supervisors approved a Cooperative Law Enforcement Agreement between the Gila County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, in the amount of $74,800 for the period of Jan. 1, 2021 through Dec. 31, 2021. The funds are for enforcement operations by the GCSO on forest lands.

Also approved was an intergovernmental agreement between the Arizona Department of Economic Security and the Gila County Community Services Department. The IGA increases the Case Management service reimbursement ceiling to $524,199.75 and increases the Community Services reimbursement ceiling to $538,293.19 for July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021 to provide continued Community Action Program services.

The board agreed to support and act as the pass-through agency for the Pine Strawberry Fire Department’s two requests for funds from the Tonto Apache Tribe and the Gila River Indian Community.

The PSFD sought and was awarded $15,000 from the Tonto Apache Tribe for the following critical equipment list:

• Nozzles for firefighting — Older than 20 years and not fully functional.

• Hose for firefighting — Older than 20 years and at risk of failure.

• Radios — Older than 10 years and failing functional tests.

• Folding water tanks — Older than 20 years and at risk of failure.

• Trash Hooks — None (Needed for safe overhaul operations.)

• Chain Saws — Older than 10 years and repair parts limited.

• Rescue Struts — None (Needed to stabilize motor vehicles.)

• Emergency Scene Lighting — No portable capable scene lights.

• Ballistic Vests — None (Needed to operate in shooter threat environments.)

The funds are also slated for Technical Force Multiplier Equipment needs:

• Advanced Thermal Imaging — Current capability is older technology.

• Remote Imaging/Drone Technology — No current remote imaging capability.

• GPS Tracking — No GPS tracking technology to track emergency personnel.

The PSFD has applied to the Gila River Indian Community for $51,300 to help support the replacement of two cardiac monitor defibrillators. The district intends to contribute $15,000 toward the purchase of the two defibrillators for a total project cost of $66,300.

There is a critical need to replace outdated cardiac monitor defibrillators.

Contact the reporter at tmcquerrey@payson.com

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