Editorial: Greenlee County Supervisors speak in favor of Prop. 400 regarding spending limitations

Op-Ed by Greenlee County Supervisors David Gomez (Dist. 1) and Ron Campbell (Dist. 2)

Citizens of Greenlee County,

On your general election ballot this year will be a Greenlee County proposition – Prop. 400.  If approved by Greenlee County voters, this proposition will allow the county to adjust its permanent base expenditure limit upward.  That’s really just a fancy way of saying that if you vote yes, Greenlee County will be allowed to spend money it already has but is not allowed to spend because of the state-imposed spending limit.

Voting yes on Prop. 400 will not raise your taxes.

Arizona limits spending and taxing authority for counties separately.  Prop. 400 does not affect the county’s taxing limit at all, it would only increase our ability to spend money to provide services.

Most of Greenlee County’s money comes from sales taxes that are shared with local governments from the State of Arizona.  We also receive revenue from local property taxes and the federal government.  Arizona limits how much money a county can spend based on population and growth.  Since our population is smaller now than when the limit was set over 40 years ago, our spending limit is artificially low.

There are a lot of rules about how this spending limit applies and sometimes it leads to inefficient/silly/strange/odd (choose your favorite adjective) decisions.  For example, money spent to pay off debt doesn’t count against the spending limit.  So the county borrows money to buy police cars and road equipment and pays interest on the loans when we have the money to pay cash.  Paying cash would save money if we were allowed to spend it.  As interest rates continue to rise, this is becoming a bigger problem.  Another example, as wages are increasing all around, it’s harder to keep valuable employees because of our spending limits.  The same is true when it comes to buying things like computers or fuel or even simple things like cleaning supplies.  When we have enough revenue to keep up with rising costs, but we aren’t allowed to spend the money, it makes providing county services more and more difficult; things like law enforcement, court systems, county parks, and a variety of health services.

Please vote on Nov. 8 or vote early when you get your ballot in the mail.  You can drop it off at the courthouse or in a drop box near the courthouse in Clifton or Duncan.  You can also mail it in by election day or bring it with you to the polling place on election day.  However you choose to vote, please consider voting yes on Prop. 400.

Thank you,

Ron S. Campbell

Greenlee County Supervisor, District 2

Dear Editor,

I am writing this letter to encourage Greenlee County voters to vote yes on Proposition 400.

Earlier this year, the Greenlee County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to send Proposition 400 to the ballot in November. This proposition will not raise your taxes and it does not affect your county property taxes in any way.

Al counties in Arizona have limits on how much they can spend each year. The spending formula is based on our economic growth and on our population. Because our population is smaller now than when the limits were put in place, our ability to spend the money we receive is so low that it makes it hard to provide county services that benefit our citizens.

What this proposition does is allow the county to raise its spending limit so that we can use money from local taxes and sales tax revenue we get from the state to pay for local needs and services like maintaining county roads, supporting our health department, and keeping our county ambulance service going. It will also allow us to be more active in helping to increase the amount of available housing in Greenlee County. Our local economy did pretty well during the pandemic and we found out that there are people who would like to live here to work at the mine or other jobs but they can’t find a place to live. We like our rural lifestyle, but increasing housing opportunities and population would benefit the entire county.

For these reasons, I urge you to vote yes on Proposition 400. It will be the last proposition on your ballot. This is not a statewide proposition. It’s a local proposition that is all about our local needs and only affects Greenlee County.

I encourage you to vote on Nov. 8 or vote early beginning on Oct. 12. If you received an early ballot in the mail, please cast your vote and send it in a few days before election day to make sure it gets in on time.

David Gomez

Greenlee County Supervisor, District 1