May is upon us. As we head toward another summer, District 3 has been a hive of activity. Here’s the very latest from my desk.
How Does Yavapai County Spend $300 Million?
The FY 2021-22 budget process for Yavapai County will take more than seven months, from the initial Board of Supervisors retreat held in January to the special Board hearing set for August 2nd, where the final budget is set to be voted upon.
It’s a long, complicated process – which makes some sense given that the county’s budget for this year will likely be about $300 million.
With that said, I believe it’s possible to bring a simple, common sense perspective to this process.
What do I mean?
That I intend to carefully steward every dollar in this budget, and to examine each expense with the same critical eye you use when you sit at the kitchen table and pay your bills.
This is not the county’s money, is how I see it. This is your money. And we need to spend it judiciously – especially now, while so many families are still feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic issues it has caused for so many of us.
In late April, the Board held four days of budget hearings where we met with each County department one by one to walk through a budget presentation. These meetings are catalogued online with video available on the county’s website. The beginning of our final session dated April 29, 2021, falls at about 9 hours, 52 minutes into the video – and there you can find my perspective on this FY21-22 year’s budget in a nutshell:
“I’m concerned when I hear … that this is a budget request that has a larger increase perhaps than has ever been asked for cumulatively by departments. That’s worrisome to me.”
Given the economic impact of the pandemic and the financial uncertainty residents of Yavapai County continue to experience, I intend to take a very conservative approach to hiring new staff and creating new positions and to major purchases like additions to the county’s vehicle fleet.
I would encourage each of you to be as engaged as you can be in the budgeting process. The next big milestone ahead is our scheduled June 30th vote to adopt a tentative budget. I will keep you informed on budget developments and on ways you can play a role in this process. Feel free to contact my office with your thoughts – on this or any other issue.
Coconino and Prescott National Forests Enact Fire Restrictions
Please be aware that the Coconino and Prescott National Forests will enter Stage I Fire Restrictions beginning on Friday, May 14, at 8 am.
The fire restrictions seek to protect public health by reducing the number of preventable human-caused wildfires. Restrictions will remain in effect until forest officials determine that conditions have changed sufficiently to reduce the risk of human-caused wildfire.
Stage 1 fire restrictions prohibit the following:
- Igniting, building, maintaining, or using a fire, including charcoal and briquettes outside a fire structure that is provided by the Forest Service within a designated area.
- Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of any flammable material.
- Discharging a firearm, except while engaged in a lawful hunt pursuant to state, federal, or tribal laws and regulations.
Exemptions to the restrictions include:
- Holders of Forest Service Special Use Authorizations are exempt from Prohibition #1 above, provided such fires are within a fire structure and are within the permitted area.
- Persons using a stove or grill that is solely fueled by liquid petroleum or liquid petroleum gas fuels.
- Persons using a stove fire in a designated area.
- Any federal, State, or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force in the performance of official duty.