Maricopa County is pulling back on discretionary spending while putting to use hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding to help people impacted by COVID-19, according to a news release from the county.
“These are difficult times. This budget focuses on what people need right now: investments in their safety, their health, and their economic wellbeing, all within our state mandates, all without raising the tax rate,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Clint Hickman, District 4, in a news release. “Because we’ve planned well and taken a conservative fiscal approach during the good times, we have the capacity to respond effectively to this crisis while continuing to fund other priorities, like planning and executing successful elections.”
The overall county budget increased this year in large part because of an infusion of federal dollars through the CARES Act: Maricopa County received more than $398 million to combat the coronavirus. That money is being spent on personal protective equipment, hiring extra case investigators and mitigating the spread of the disease among vulnerable populations, according to the release.
“This is a structurally balanced budget that puts taxpayer money to use where it matters and where it can make the most difference in people’s lives,” said Board Vice Chairman Jack Sellers, District 1, in a news release. “I appreciate the work of my colleagues on the Board and the county leadership team in adjusting to a challenging situation without sacrificing our commitment to smart financial stewardship.“
As the scope of the pandemic and its economic impact became clearer, Maricopa County leadership considered new revenue and spending projections, assuming a recession scenario for major revenue streams, and then took steps to reduce costs, including:
- A 2% reduction of the general and detention funds' operating budgets;
- Reprioritization of capital projects based on adjusted available funds; and
- Requirement for special revenue funds to submit budget plans with no additional money from the general or detention funds.
The tentative FY 2020-21 budget keeps the combined tax rate flat and maintains structural balance, according to the release.
“We are cutting back on spending where we can and doubling down where we must, with a focus on wise management of the CARES Act funding,” District 2 Supervisor Steve Chucri said in a news release. “A crisis of this magnitude makes it even more important for our government to operate at the speed of business. I’m proud of how quickly we’ve been able to adjust our operations to serve constituents, all while not raising the tax rate.”
The public will be able to comment on the tentative budget between now and the final vote, which is scheduled for June 22, 2020. More information is available at at https://maricopa.gov/budget.