KINGMAN — The county supervisor from Lake Havasu City again opposed a quarter-cent sales tax Monday that would go to pay off a public safety pension debt.
Despite the support by several speakers who favored a sales tax over a property tax increase, District 3 Sup. Buster Johnson voted against several versions of a new quarter cent sales tax. The supervisors would have to pass any sales tax by a unanimous vote. The board did vote to bring back the sales tax proposal for a public hearing by the Aug. 7 meeting.
District 1 Sup. Gary Watson proposed the tax increase, to be used only paying off the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System and the Elected Officials Retirement Plan.
The county faces a $21 million pension debt from the public safety pension fund. The county could pay as much an additional $20 million in interest alone if the debt is paid over decades. That would balloon the total payment to about $40 million, which would burden future boards.
The sales tax would be paid by Mohave County residents and visitors to the county who purchase items in the county. About 60 percent of sales taxes are estimated to be paid by visitors to the county, according to county estimates, and the increase would have brought in an additional $6.5 million a year.
District 5 Sup. Steve Moss also motioned for a quarter-cent sales tax of which up to $4 million would go to the sheriff’s office to hire new deputies and solved the compression issue. The remaining revenue would go to pay off the PSPRS and EORP debt.
District 2 Sup. Hildy Angius suggested the county could also go out for low-interest loans to pay off the pension debt. She also members of the Colorado River Tea Party Patriots, typically opposed to any tax increase, understood the need for a sales tax to pay off the pension debt and to go to the sheriff’s office.
In other action, the board met in executive session to hear an update on the county’s options in the Transwestern. Pipeline Co. vs Arizona Department of Revenue 2016 tax valuation court case. The property tax valuation case is between the natural gas pipeline company against ADOR and Mohave County. The company has natural gas pipelines that run through the seven counties.
The supervisors postponed for up to 60 days a decision on changes to the sheriff’s office overtime rules. If a deputy is using personal time off and is called back to work, the result is a financial disincentive for the deputy to come back off PTO.
Before the meeting started, District 5 Sup. Steve Moss said the snowpack in the Rocky Mountains is about 210 percent of average. The Colorado River draws its water from the snowpack.
The board also authorized hiring a chief building official at an annual salary of $88,483. However, the board postponed a decision to allow the official to commute to and from using a county vehicle. The building official sometimes is called out along with sheriff’s deputies during early morning drug raids.
The supervisors also suspended the board meeting at 11 a.m. to participate in open meeting law training as offered by the Arizona ombudsman’s office.