As the elected leadership of Coconino County, we are writing to express our concerns with a budget being proposed in the Senate that would shift $150 million in state obligations to counties. We are extremely concerned that while this budget is being touted as fiscally conservative, it is not. The budget will only shift the burden onto local governments and to local taxpayers.
In many of our most rural areas in the state, counties are the main provider of services. Counties plow roads during heavy snow, provide court and election services to remote areas and ensure the public safety of their residents. With a decrease in federal and state revenues, a cap on our property and sales tax and the impact of the recession, we are still providing these services for less.
In the last year, Coconino County has spent millions on emergencies throughout the county, including a tornado outside of Flagstaff, several forest fires and a flood emergency that will continue to impact the county in the coming years. Any further shifts in state costs would further compound our fiscal situation in Coconino County and create a major impact on county services to residents and a shift of the tax burden on local taxpayers.
The proposed Senate Budget could add an additional $150 million burden to counties. To date, counties across the state have received more than $190 million in impacts, including a $77 million impact of ongoing costs in the fiscal year 11 budget. The proposed impacts, including the shift of state prisoners to county jails, the shift of county Vehicle License Tax revenue to pay for the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles and an increase in payments from counties to the Arizona Long-Term Cost Containment System, or ALTCS, will have a devastating impact on our county and counties across the state.
We ask you to oppose any further impacts to counties during the budget process. The Senate budget proposal does not reduce any expenditures, nor does it increase any revenues, it merely transfers the deficit to local government where the same deficit burden exists for the taxpayers, just at a different level of government. This is the absolute wrong approach.
Bill Pribil, Sheriff, Mandy Metzger, Chair, Board of Supervisors, David Rozema, County Attorney, Robert Kelty, Superintendent of Schools, Bonny Lynn, Treasurer, Christine Mazon, Assessor, Candace Owens, Recorder