State Budget Shifts Cost County Another $1.5 Million In 2010-11

October 20th, 2010

By Tammy Gray-Searles

   Even in the unlikely event that the state legislature does not make any further cuts that affect Navajo County, those already enacted have reduced the county’s budget by about $1.5 million.

   According to a Sept. 27 report from the County Supervisor’s Association, state budget impacts total $1,509,457 to Navajo County over the course of the 2010-11 fiscal year. Statewide, those impacts total $77.06 million for all counties combined.

   In Navajo County, the largest reduction to the budget came from the elimination of the county assistance fund. Paid for through lottery revenues, the assistance fund should have brought in $550,035 in revenue to the county. That amount was the same for all counties across the state, except Maricopa and Pima Counties, which lost $249,772 in revenue.

   Another major reduction in revenue for the county came from the shift of Highway User Revenue Funds (HURF) to the Department of Public Safety (DPS). Navajo County lost $469,774 in revenue due to the shift. Statewide, the move shifted $7.6 million from counties to DPS.

   Navajo County expects to be required to spend about $354,288 to restore defendants to competency at Arizona State Hospital (ASH). Those costs were previously split between the state and the county, but the legislature shifted 100 percent of the cost to counties, even for crimes prosecuted under state laws. Across the state, the shift is expected to cost counties a total of $5.17 million.

   Portions of Justice of the Peace salaries formerly paid by the state were shifted to the counties, costing Navajo County $99,089 in fiscal year 2010-11. For all counties, the state expects to save $1.3 million through the shift.

   Lawmakers also shifted a portion of the cost of treating certain sex offenders at ASH to counties. For Navajo County, that cost is estimated at $36,271. Statewide, it is expected to total $2.3 million for all counties.

   Reductions to the 2010-11 budget are on top of those already made in previous years. According to the County Supervisors Association report, Navajo County’s budget has been reduced by a total of $3,019,980 since fiscal year 2008. Those cuts include $1.4 million in HURF revenues, $1.2 million in program shifts and $592,420 in “lost revenue streams.” A portion of those reductions were offset by a one-time $230,769 economic aid payment for rural counties.

   Statewide, fund shifts, reductions and cuts by the state have resulted in $193.6 million in lost revenues for counties since 2008.

   Navajo County officials have noted that they are anticipating additional cuts partway through the fiscal year as state lawmakers struggle to close an ongoing budget gap.

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