July 6, 2011
For Immediate release
Maricopa County places hiring, capital freeze;
For the fourth consecutive fiscal year, Maricopa County administrators have imposed a hiring capital purchasing freeze throughout all county departments. The limits apply to all purchases over $1000 or more and all positions that are currently vacant or become vacant over the new fiscal year, which began July 1.
"While the economic situation appears to be stabilizing, the new budget anticipates little or no growth in revenues," wrote Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson in a July 1 memo. The board adopted the updated freeze policies after approving a $2.3 billion operating budget for the fiscal year. The freezes were first imposed in July 2008, just as the state and nation were hit by economic recession.
"These kinds of measures have allowed Maricopa County to cope with the economic recession," commented Supervisor Andy Kunasek, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. "They have also helped us to deliver services without raising taxes."
The freeze applies to the Maricopa County Superior Court, the offices of the independent county elected officials, all county departments and the library, stadium and flood control districts which are governed by the five-member board.
The freeze does not apply to capital equipment purchased or staff procured as part of an approved major maintenance or capital project. Department directors and other top officials may request exemptions from the Office of Management and Budget, County Manager David Smith and ultimately, the Board of Supervisors.
"The heroes of Maricopa County have been our employees," said Supervisor Max Wilson. “The county has been the one government to anticipate and react to the recession quickly, take advantage of innovation and doing more with less – just like business has had to do. We still have been able to follow and meet many of our high priority capital projects in a time of retrenchment."
Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox said she is pleased the county’s policies have allowed the county to avoid massive layoffs and service cutbacks while continue the new Criminal Court Tower construction. "This project employed a lot of people who would otherwise have had to leave Arizona," Wilcox said. "We need a new court facility badly and we got it built at a time when commodity costs had dropped and contractors needed the work. It will be done on time and on budget."
Supervisor Fulton Brock said the conservative budget philosophy has helped the county maintain its AAA credit rating at a time when many governmental jurisdictions are being downgraded by national bond rating companies. Maricopa County recently earned the highest possible rankings from both Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings services. "The county has proven to be a good steward of taxpayers’ money," Brock said.
Supervisor Don Stapley commented: "The county-controlled portion of the typical resident’s tax bill is declining and has dropped throughout this period. Yet, so many county departments are winning state and national recognition for their service delivery, innovation and cost."