FLORENCE, AZ – Pinal County Board of Supervisors’ Chairman Steve Miller today outlined his budget priorities for the upcoming budget discussions that begin February 27.
“By outlining my objectives for the coming year, I hope to signal to my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors and the other elected officials what my priorities and goals are and, hopefully, set a tone for future funding discussions,” Chairman Miller said.
“We need to tighten our belt and curtail spending again this year,” he said. His twin priorities are:
• No increase in the property tax rate. Pinal County already has the highest primary property tax rate and the second highest tax burden of Arizona’s 15 counties. Our ultimate goal is to bring the tax levy to a reasonable level. Property taxes for the coming year are based on real estate sales from 2010 and 2011 when property values were still declining. The county will collect 7.7 percent less or $6.3 million less in property tax than last year.
• Freezing all department budgets at current levels. The only budget increases Chairman Miller will consider are those that are tied to a specific mandated state or federal programs.
“There are many needs and numerous mandated programs that must be funded without increasing the tax burden on our residents,” Miller emphasized. “With the exception of slight upticks in state sales tax revenues, the signs of recovery that we are beginning to see won’t be reflected in county property tax revenues for another 12 to 18 months.”
“We have a finite amount of money and directive from the public to use their money wisely and cut where we can,” Miller said. “The easy fix is to adjust the property tax rate to collect the same revenue but I view any upward movement in the property tax assessment as a tax increase. That’s not why the voters sent me here. We need to be certain that we spend our money wisely before we ask the taxpayers to pay more.”
From Supervisor Rios
Supervisor Pete Rios has gone on record supporting the Chairman’s visions.
“I just finished reading Chairman Stephen Miller’s budget guidelines for our upcoming 2013/14 negotiations. No one should be surprised to find I am in complete agreement with Chairman Miller’s vision for the budget.
“The guidelines by Chairman Miller are two-fold: no property tax levy increase and freeze county departmental budgets. After hearing from Assessor Doug Wolf that property tax collections will be down for this upcoming fiscal year, I feel the wisest course of action is to not increase our budget unless it is absolutely necessary and to hold the tax levy steady. That was the same principle we enacted for the past three years on the past Board of Supervisors. Continuing this course is wise as to not increase the tax burden on our residents.
“The goal is to keep us on the path of responsive and responsible. Our county employees have embraced this philosophy by working harder with less during this downturn in the economy.
“There is no question in my mind, the guiding principles the Chairman put forth are a fiscally sound method to help Pinal County continue its recovery from the great recession of the past few years. I will be supporting the Chairman’s vision for this year’s 2013/14 budget process.”