By Denny Barney
This year, there are a lot of new faces in Maricopa County—a different sheriff, a new county recorder, treasurer and superintendent of schools. A five-year Board of Supervisors makeover culminated with the swearing in of Supervisor Bill Gates in January.
We recognize change as a challenge, but also, as an opportunity. In my first run as the Board of Supervisors’ chairman, we invited the elected officials to come together and talk about the County’s shared vision and common goals. Believe it or not, that had never happened before. As a result, we made progress in the areas of regulatory reform, workplace development and transparency in the budget. We also introduced a zero-based approach to budgeting that protects your money.
This year, I have the honor of again serving as chairman. Here are a few of my priorities
The County is a subdivision of the state and we walk a tight rope to manage those mandates while making sure we can be fiscally conservative and financially prudent in everything that we do. Managing your tax dollars is our No. 1 responsibility and we take it very seriously. We will continue to focus on improving our budget processes and managing the fiscal side of the house. There will be a continued emphasis on transparency.
There will always be natural friction between those that are given the authority to regulate and those that are regulated. We will continue to enhance the way we handle the authority, so that families can thrive and businesses can succeed.
Every year we have more than 100,000 people come through the doors of our jails. Of those in custody, more than 50% will be back in our jails in 12 months or less. We will continue to explore evidence-based, smart justice initiatives and best practices to limit the number of people returning to jail.
We are excited about the repurposing of the Madison Street Jail in downtown Phoenix into a unique space for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. Design is already underway and we anticipate it will be completed in spring of 2019. Currently, the County Attorney’s Office is spread across multiple buildings and the new facility will allow them to be under one roof near the courts. This will make it easier for them to administer justice fairly and effectively.
Our 13,000 dedicated employees are the most valuable asset we have. So, we want to invest in them with workforce development opportunities, including a new internal training system. Better, happier employees become better, more effective public servants.
Maricopa County will be launching a new website in February. It will be more user friendly, making it easier than ever for you to do business with county departments. We have also enhanced our Open Government portion of the website, allowing you to find documents and information more easily.
We have our work cut out for us with recent events surrounding Chase Field. The Diamondbacks are a great asset to the downtown community, the county and the state and we want them to keep playing at Chase Field through the end of the original term. It’s best for the community. It’s best for the taxpayers’ investment. We believe it’s also best for the Diamondbacks.
As you can see there’s a lot to celebrate and a lot more work to do at Maricopa County. I thank you for the opportunity to start another term as your county supervisor. I will work hard to make 2017 a productive year for Maricopa County.
Denny Barney is a Gilbert resident and chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors