FLORENCE – Tom Peters, best-selling author of In Search of Excellence is quoted as saying: “In today’s economy there are no experts, no ‘best and brightest’ with all the answers. It’s up to each one of us. The only way to screw up is to not try anything.”
If that is true, Pinal County employees and managers rose to the occasion – trying “everything” – a fact acknowledged by each of the Supervisors as they prepared to vote on the new budget.
“We have unlimited needs but limited resources,” Supervisor Sandie Smith said. “I would like to thank each of Pinal's elected officials, department heads and the courts for cooperating and sharing in the sacrifices necessary to allow each one of us to continue delivering quality service to our citizens.’
Supervisor Ruiz added: “Budget compromises affect the staff and I want to thank each staff person for working hard to meet the demands of residents by balancing our spending priorities. We sometimes don't see the sacrifices from where we sit but we know you are being challenged to do more with less. Your efforts are appreciated.”
The adopted budget for the fiscal year that just ended was $475 million. The tentative budget proposal approved in June 2008 was for $450.6 million. The Supervisors today approved additional cuts in capital expenditures of $4.81 million. The final approved budget resulting from those cuts and the decision today is $445,794,271. This represents a decrease in county spending of $29 million over last year’s approved budget.
Earlier spending cuts, the hiring delay, vacancy savings and the careful allocation of resources has helped Pinal County avoid the types of layoffs and reductions in force that several of our neighboring governments and businesses have made.
Highlights of the 2008-09 budget include:
- A net tax decrease of 54 cents, thus establishing the lowest primary property tax rate in 31 years. The proposed primary tax rate is 86 cents less than the 2006 rate.
- Establishing Superior Court Division X to handle the increased caseload stemming from the county’s rapid growth.
- Ensuring public safety by providing adequate funding for the Sheriff’s Office, Detention and the Courts.
- Minimizing the use of the county’s rainy day fund by making expenditure reductions across multiple departments and divisions.
- The proposed budget is $24.39 million less than the prior year’s approved budget.
- Maintaining the financial stability of Pinal County. In December 2007, Standard & Poor’s upgraded its debt rating for Pinal County to A. Standard & Poor’s states the upgrade was earned as a result of “continued economic growth and diversification and maintenance of a strong financial position with strong reserves.”
- Expanding library services for Pinal County residents.
- Construction of a replacement for the storm-damaged Schnepf Road Bridge.
- Completion of Park Link Drive resurfacing. Park Link Drive is an important east-west connector.
“County leaders — and I include the Judges and Court officials, elected officials and my colleagues in this — have come together in a compromise that symbolizes a commitment to the employees of Pinal County and the people of Pinal County,” Chairman Snider said. “Our employees represent the face of Pinal County to the public as much as any of us do.”