Maricopa County Budget -- Supervisors adopt $2.2 billion budget;
Public safety spending increases
A unanimous Maricopa County Board of Supervisors today adopted a budget of $2.21 billion for the upcoming fiscal year, some $8.6 million lower than the FY 2014 Budget. The operating budget will rise slightly, with offsets in capital and technology spending. The increases in the current spending will go mostly to public safety and criminal justice, which makes up 51 percent of all county spending.
In order to handle the increased workload in the justice system, this budget will add three new court divisions, market–based salary increases for deputies and probation officers, new resources for prosecution and defense, and increases in the number of adult and juvenile probation staff. There are additional expenditures for detention operations in the jails as the inmate population continues to climb. The new fiscal year begins July 1.
“This is a budget that our board members and citizens can believe in,” Board Chairman Denny Barney said. “We never lose sight of the fact that it’s not our money; it’s the taxpayers’ money. This budget reflects our collective vision for the county’s strategic priorities. It was a collaborative process, with the elected county leaders and management staff working together.”
As the economy recovers, the county is cautiously optimistic about revenue growth. Maricopa County is estimating growth in sales and vehicle licenses taxes between 4.5 percent and 6.0 percent. Property taxes are expected to grow by $32.5 million, but the tax levy will be $50 million below the property tax level prior to the recessionary reductions in property values. The county will be $162.9 million or 26.9 percent below the maximum levy.
The budget was developed using a data-based approach. All new requests underwent a rigorous review and had to be justified with results-oriented information. The Cradles to Crayon pilot program for the juvenile court was included in the budget because of the positive outcomes that were documented for children involved. Zero-based budget reviews were completed for several large departments including the County Attorney’s Office and Public Defense Services. This allowed the County Supervisors to take a fresh look at all costs and to be assured that our taxpayers are getting a good value for the services provided.
Supervisor Steve Chucri said: “We collaborated with other county elected officials to shape a conservative budget that reflects our needs, not our wants. Everyone came together, understanding that the criminal justice system is complex and has long-standing needs that must be addressed.”
The new budget restores structural balance to the general fund, officials said. This means that reoccurring revenues exceed reoccurring expenditures. Reserves and contingency funds are included for when an economic downturn occurs.
“This balanced budget is really a culmination of a yearlong effort to build a new County strategic plan,” stated Supervisor Andy Kunasek, “as good fiscal stewards of the taxpayers, I am proud to deliver on our strategic priorities and goals in the most cost-efficient way possible.”
Supervisor Clint Hickman emphasized the importance of properly funding the criminal justice system and said, “Fifty one percent of our budget goes directly to criminal justice. The county budget reflects the complexity and ripple effects of the justice system. All are tied together: investigation and enforcement, prosecution, victims’ services, probation, defense costs, and incarceration. It must be a highly functioning system. Our citizens expect nothing less.”
Newly appointed Supervisor Marie Lopez Rogers was not on the board during its development over recent months. “I am impressed that the budget has incorporated the mission of being fiscally responsible while addressing the necessary public services so residents can enjoy living in a healthy and safe environment,” Rogers said. “I fully support and embrace this budget’s commitment to public safety and the criminal justice system. It is important to the county that we build trust and collaboration between MCSO, law enforcement in general, and the community.”
Please visit www.maricopa.gov/bos for information about each member of the Board of Supervisors.