On Wednesday January 22, 2020, the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors met at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University for a special budget retreat to discuss a few of the larger upcoming budget issues and begin the budget process.
Yavapai County Administrator Phil Bourdon began the meeting with a review of current economic data for Arizona and Yavapai County, and then covered updates from the Governor on the state budget, new County budget considerations and the budget process going forward. Mr. Bourdon said, “We always begin the budget process by removing all of last year’s capital one-time expenditures from the general fund. We look at Elections and Voter Registration budgets and adjust according to the upcoming election schedule, and we look at continuing our additional payments to Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS) in order to reduce the unfunded liability and allow these additional funds time to mature and grow into the future.”
Yavapai County Human Resources and Risk Management Director Wendy Ross discussed with the board how the minimum wage has been steadily increasing each year and how this year would be no different. Mrs. Ross stated, “On January 1, of 2020, the minimum wage went up to $12.00 an hour. This change made it necessary to increase the wage of over 50 employees, in order to comply with state minimum wage law. The steady and continuing increases to minimum wage have created some internal compression issues with employee wages, and Mrs. Ross had several options for the board to consider as they move forward with the budget process.
Public Works Director Dan Cherry was next to present on the County’s Regional Roads Program. Mr. Cherry noted that 2016 legislative changes to the statutes which govern the County’s authority to charge and collect roadway development impact fees are scheduled to take effect as of January 1st, 2021. “Requirements for a County to collect roadway impact fees, an important source of funding for the County’s Regional Roads Program, are becoming more stringent and restrictive to the specific roadway capacity needs created by new developments. The expenditure restrictions state; Funds must be used for capacity improvements such as new construction, widening, and adding turn lanes.” These restrictions phase out the ability of the County to collect impact fees based on its existing Roadway Development Fee program later in 2020. Mr. Cherry went on to explain that, because of this reduction in funding, should the County choose to not create a new roadway impact fee program under current statutes, the County should continue to encourage and support legislation at the State level which can help generate funding for the maintenance and construction of infrastructure in the State and region.
Mr. Cherry included the following chart to illustrate previous and current projects made possible with partnerships, which have been a hallmark of the County’s Regional Roads Program since its inception in the 1990s.
Yavapai County Facilities Assistant Director Brandon Shoults wrapped up the meeting with a review of the three main capital projects; the Criminal Justice Center, Gurley St Remodel (including a Parking Structure and Interior Remodel), and Marina St. With the construction of a new Criminal Justice Center (CJC) located in Prescott, scheduled to begin later this year, design and construction plans for the Gurley Street facility are moving ahead as scheduled. Mr. Shoults said, “We are planning on breaking ground on the first phase of the remodel, a new parking structure for the building, in around April with completion as early as August or September of this year.”
Mr. Shoults went on to explain that working with Kitchell Corporation, the County’s Representative for the Criminal Justice Center, has been financially beneficial and will allow the county to stay on schedule while ensuring the construction of quality facilities that will last for decades.
The final project that Mr. Shoults discussed was the Marina Street building. The County is currently waiting for grant funding in order to complete a study on the abatement needs of the building. Once the report is complete, Mr. Shoults said he would submit the report as part of a grant request, which will cover a majority of costs to resolve the abatement issues. Once this is complete, the county can decide the best way to utilize this building for the benefit of Yavapai County residents.