County will make community stronger and spend less money SanTan Sun News

County will make community stronger and spend less money

July 10th, 2018 | by alexander
County will make community stronger and spend less money
Opinion
0

By DENNY BARNEY

Guest Writer

As a business owner, I have a lot of practice in making the most of finite resources. It might sound nice to spend however much I want on whatever I want whenever I want it, but that’s a recipe for disaster.

I’ve learned the only way to be successful is to live within my means and direct the money I do have toward the most important aspects of my business.

I take the same approach as a county supervisor, especially during the budget process. Maricopa County government is big, full of diverse interests, and our job as leaders is to figure out how to make the most of what we have so everyone thrives.

As my colleagues and I worked with our 50-plus departments to craft a budget, we had to say “no” to a lot of things and “yes, but” to many others.

In the end, those tough conversations yielded a budget for fiscal year 2019 that is smaller in terms of dollars spent than last year’s budget.

The board doesn’t control property values, but we do control the tax rate and, once again, kept it flat. In fact, in FY 2019 we’ll collect about $46 million less in taxes than we are allowed under state law.

A huge chunk of our budget in the upcoming year goes toward the No. 1 function of any government: public safety.

Demands on the county’s criminal justice system have grown during my time on the Board of Supervisors. Public safety accounted for 50 percent of the budget in 2013. Now it’s 54 percent.

That means we have to be more efficient. My colleagues and I want our law enforcement agencies to be funded for long-term success so we are supporting the Sheriff’s Office, county attorney and courts in several key ways this year, prioritizing investments in new technology that will help them do their jobs better and faster.

For the county attorney, there’s additional funding for assault evidence collection kits, a priority of that office.

For the courts, there’s ongoing funding for a high-tech case management system that will speed along the process for members of public.

For the Sheriff’s Office, there are 26 additional positions focused on compliance with the court order in the Arpaio-era racial profiling case. That includes 12 new staff in the Professional Standards Bureau to ensure all Sheriff’s Office employees live up to the high standards our community expects.

Reaching full compliance has the potential to save county taxpayers millions of dollars each year. We will also look for ways to drive down public safety costs long-term, such as Smart Justice initiatives that can reduce inmate recidivism and updated facilities that streamline our processes and improve efficiency.

This is a big year for voters in Maricopa County and it takes a lot of planning and resources to ensure everyone’s vote counts.

The FY 2019 budget includes $13.4 million to fund the upcoming primary and general elections.

There are also 155 capital improvement projects in this budget including seven technology projects, 28 parks work and 109 transportation upgrades.

One of them is a new computer system for the Assessor’s Office to increase the accuracy of property valuations and improve the way that information is shared publicly.

Many of our capital projects won’t be visible to you, but they are all aimed at improving lives and making county government work better. You can read the details by going to maricopa.gov/budget and clicking on “budget docs.”

One of the things that makes Maricopa County great is that, in spite of the growing demand on its resources, the cost of government services is low compared to other counties of a similar size.

During my time on the board, we’ve brought a business mindset to local government, focused on making the most of what we have so everyone can benefit. That’s what this budget is all about.

Denny Barney is a member of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

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