Yavapai College - Newsletter 3

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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : latest news : local August 19, 2014

4/22/2013 10:29:00 PM
County begins messy job of dealing with budget
Scott Orr
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT - Three of the five members of the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors had their first taste of what it takes to hash out the county budget Monday, and it didn't always go smoothly.

Craig Brown, Rowle Simmons, and Jack Smith are all new to the process, although Simmons has experience with a similar task from his days as mayor of Prescott.

Brown, however, had a complaint that he said he saw with almost every department's proposed budget: the practice of listing a line-item as a "zero-percent" change when the department asked for, say, $1,000, had spent just $233 up to this point, three-quarters of the way through the fiscal year, and was asking for $1,000 for next year.

Nearly every time he asked the question, he was given an answer that accounted for the cost, but he was not satisfied.

"They all show... budgets amounts that are significantly higher than what has occurred," Brown said. "Then we come into the forecast, and it shows we're going to use what we used, so therefore we end up with an increase/decrease of zero, which will be untrue at the end of the year.

"This is basically wishful thinking," Brown said. "You think the board looks down here (at the increase/decrease column) and goes, 'Oh, zero, zero, zero. Yay, no increases.'"

He added that the unspent money goes back into the general fund.

But Supervisor Tom Thurman cautioned against taking too hard a line on projections like that.

"We've got to be real careful," he said. "We don't want to create a situation like the feds have... if you don't spend it, and it's in your budget, you're not going to get it (next year).

"Instead of being frugal, they just go ahead" and spend the remaining funds.

County Administrator Phil Bourdon said, "We can probably work with departments to better and more accurately define the 12-month forecast."

The most contentious presentation came from Assessor Pam Pearsall. She asked for several deviations from the current year's budget, notably a $60,000 pilot program for aerial observation of properties known as Pictometry, which she would pay for out of the "assessor's surcharge fund," to which the state is no longer contributing .

Pictometry, which Pearsall believes will ultimately pay for itself in increased assessments, has been a point of dispute. "I was given the assurances that it was approved on my (2012-13) budget, so I spent a lot of my time and resources to put together this project," she said, but the board would not allow the contract to be signed. "I mean, you've given me the funding, it's the permission to enter the contract, and it seems like that's a matter of integrity."

Chairman Chip Davis raised an eyebrow. "When you're broke, you're broke," he said. "The surcharge fund is sunsetting... you have obligations out there you've already put to the surcharge fund and now you're going to put another burden on the surcharge fund."

Pearsall said she'd take responsibility if the project would not generate enough revenue to cover its own expenses.

"But we've heard that over and over and over again, because we've probably expended about $7 million trying to come up with a computer program for the assessor's department over the last 10 years," Davis said.

"I only know about the $1 million for the last four years, and that contract was signed before I took office," Pearsall said.

She said the software worked well, and "I've come in and done a stellar job of keeping it going. So, you're welcome," she said.

"Well, thank you. I appreciate the highest drop in property valuations in the state of Arizona," Davis replied.

"I wouldn't say I was responsible for that," Pearsall said.

The board continues to hear more budget discussion through Thursday.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Article comment by: Is Chip a Male Chauvnist?

I recall last year it was Julie Ayers that Chip hassled. He was immature, rude and mean. He has been rude to Ms. Pearsall on more than one occation. What is his problem?

Sounds like he makes up numbers, promises budgets then doesn't allow the expenditures.

He is pretty big for his britches.

Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Article comment by: James Ross

I closed escrow in November and signed title documents within a few days. My pro rata property tax was provided in the closing, To this day, the tax records still list the developer as legal owner. I was told this not unusual, it maybe September before entry is made on new tax bill. I am not impressed with the assessor's computer. After having real property in California, Florida and Maricopa County, spending $7 million, one would expect more efficiency.

Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Article comment by: Flo Duran

Parts of Yavapai County are not safe and way off the grid.. And some people do as they want. "A spy in the sky" might be the perfect answer to get valuations, plus the benefit of saving on County wear and tear on vehicles and fuel cost. Has Chip thought it through? If a county employee gets hurt or killed, then blood will also be on Chips hands. Chip figure cost verses value.. Its like Chip is asking a contractor try and build a home with out a hammer.. Lets have professionalism Chip,and not a personal vendetta against another elected official. Is an equal opportunity word now. Ladies are throwing away the aprons and bringing in common sense where there was none... We are all equal!

Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Article comment by: @ Areyoukidding me

Did you read this article?

Chip Davis wanted and expected your property values to increase.

And Chip snapped at the Assessor for the land values going down.

They also OK'd the sky view system, then didn't sign the contract. (tho this would pay its own way and keep County employees safer.)

Then Chip once again brought up the amount of 10 million for a computer system, tho it was all done and passed prior to our currant assessor taking office.

I think Chip could be perceived as a bully, his facts are so off the mark, wrong and some could think untruthful.

And you mentioned conservative... Like the huge road to no where costing millions, but will help future land developer/ ranchers, when the economy returns.. Yes conservative at its best..

Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Article comment by: True Arizonan

I have been to the back woods of Ashfork and Seligman several time.

It can be a scary place, and dangerous.

I have seen the signs "trespassers will be shot"

If I was employed by the County or State, It would be intimidating and possibly dangerous to be in this area.

So having an pictometry view would make common sense, and be safer. After all Chip if every one pays their fair share, The tax burden lowers for the rest.. who don't get AG.

Where is Ross Jacobs in all this?.. After all he is the tax man... Who also works full time at a title agency as manager.. BOS is it ok to double dip???

Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Article comment by: Lest We Forget

Springer and Thurman were a big part of the financial picture we are in today. Remember Springer convincing Thurman to borrow fifty million because that is the best time to borrow, during a recession? They returned half of it at a great loss. This was after Springer's prophecy was found to be flawed. Taxpayers did get a great number of new buildings from the three supervisors. We will be paying for them for a while. No wonder we are broke. Glad Springer is gone, why did Thurman get reelected after their boondoggle?

Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Article comment by: Nancy Knoll

Chip, not sure what planet your living on.. Homes are being foreclosed upon, short sales are happening. How can values go up in this market? I think your childish tantrum aimed at the assessor was immature. As an elected official, You should exhibit better behavior. And know what you are talking about, 1 million or 10 on the computer system,and which administration you approved it for.. Seems you had no problem winking at prior administrations. How is that new road costing us millions going out to the Davis ranch going? Yet neighborhoods in Paulden have roads that are UN-drive-able.. Though they paid the impact fee's. Yet ranches pay none.. but if you have friends and relatives that are elected officials you get new pavement.. Luxury roads.. Humm.. Smells Chip! Well glad to know Chip wants us to have our values raised tho the market is down.

One thing I really got from this article is that the Assessor is qualified to be a BOS and the BOS don't have qualifications to be the Assessor.

Good going Pam Pearsall, Keep up the good work!

Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Article comment by: w u

The Sups have a tough job this year. From what I can see they are taking it seriously and should be commended. Let them do their work.

Knowing this paper, the good things will be lost to the readers and the controversy will be highlighted.

Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Article comment by: A Tax Payer

First off Pam is right she did not buy the new software system. But here is where the problems begins. How many times has she had to go back and ask for more money for the new system. With the statement this will solve the problems each time. When this system was purchased it was stated how it will allow appraiser to be faster and would be able to do the job with less people. Which she agreed with when you came into office.

Just a few weeks ago she stated she cannot do the job with the staff she has now. So did the county buy another system that does not delivery what was promised? My next question is why would you put your staff time into something that was no guarantee it would be approved. Lets face it tax money is in short supply. Would it have not been better use of your staff to go out in the field and look for these ranches who were not reporting. Pearsall said she'd take responsibility if the project would not generate enough revenue to cover its own expenses. Does that statement mean that she will pay for it out of your salary?

Pam has playing a game of poker. The first card was to do in the ranchers. So the county now has a big lawsuit on it hands. Are the taxes you going to collect going to be more then the legal fees spent? Or is it a case of playing politics. Second card she raised most residential values for next year. Third card she reduced values so much the last two years local tax districts have had no choice but to raise rates. So the blame is past on to someone else. So the forth card is Pictometry and the last card is the software system. So where is the winning pair?

Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Article comment by: Areyou Kiddingme

Thank you Mr. Brown and Mr. Davis for requiring the county to be financially responsible. Please don't back down from your stance. Ms. Pearsall sounds like a typical arrogant politician!

Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Article comment by: bengt engstrom

As always, our "Conservative" candidates turn into spend-happy, tax-happy liberals soon after they are elected.

And Fie on Pearsall for her spy -in -the-sky proposal. ...But, at least, she is out in the open about it.

Sooner or later, the Sheriff's White Elephant helicopter will become a tool of the county to produce more revenue for Pearsall's tax greed.

Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Article comment by: local guy

Wow, the highest drop in property valuations in the state yet taxes barely blipped and are now on the fast track up again. Pearsall has never seen a nickel that wasn't her own and a dollar she didn't want to spend. $60,000 for Pictometry (on a $1-to-$7 million computer system that apparently doesn't work) shouldn't even be a consideration with Google Earth and satellite maps available, both of which I use regularly for free. And what exactly does "Pearsall said she'd take responsibility" mean? Is she going to volunteer to pay for Pictometry out of her salary? Yeah, that's what I thought... tax and spend, same old story...

Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Article comment by: Why be a Creap?

I hope he sees the error of providing a budget, then refusing to honor the commitments made.

Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Article comment by: Integrity is important

Oh politicians that don't keep their words, big surprise! I am glad she called him on it. It sounds like he has a "Chip" on his shoulder about the fact the market tanked the last few years and he can't collect as much property tax as he wants Did he expect her to keep our values high even though they weren't worth that anymore?

If he said 7 million and she said 1 million I would look into it, is he exagerating? That is a pretty big difference. I expect my elected officials to know what they are talking about and not make numbers up (especially in a budget hearing)

Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Article comment by: Why messy?

My Goodness! Why is it messy?

The "New Norm" is to have a budget larger than you did last year and "sequester"! You'd think 5 out-of 5 politicians would recommend it!!

Oops, I know why it's "messy"! I thought, "budget, think, politician"! NEVER MIND!

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Yavapai College - Newsletter 2

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