Source: Maricopa County
Maricopa County is putting hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds to immediate use helping people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic while also pulling back on discretionary spending unrelated to the crisis.
It’s a one-two effort to best serve taxpayers during a time of national emergency. The Board of Supervisors approved a tentative $3.071B budget for fiscal year 2021. The bulk of spending is focused on core statutory responsibilities like public safety, with an increased amount dedicated to community health.
The overall county budget increased this year in large part because of an injection of federal funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. As the nation’s fastest-growing county with the 3rd largest public health jurisdiction, Maricopa County received more than $398M to combat COVID-19, money that is being spent on priorities such as personal protective equipment, hiring extra case investigators, and mitigating the spread of disease among vulnerable populations.
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:
- 2 percent reduction of General and Detention Fund operating budgets
- Re-prioritization of capital projects based on adjusted available funds
- Require Special Revenue funds to submit budget plans with no additional money from the General or Detention funds
The tentative FY 2021 budget keeps the combined tax rate flat and maintains structural balance. At a time when many other counties are taxing as much as they are allowed by state law, Maricopa County’s tax levy is $140.5M below the maximum.
As in years past, a significant portion (44 percent) of the county budget is allocated to criminal justice and public safety with the next largest percentage covering health, welfare, and sanitation (32 perent).
New investments in FY 2021 include projects such as:
- The Southeast Regional Justice Center and the Sheriff’s Office Avondale Substation
- Additional staff in jails and probation officers
- Improvements to the regional park system
- An increase in dollars for animal control enforcement in unincorporated areas
The county will also continue to invest in new technology across departments and elected offices that will help staff better serve the public, whether they are in the office or working remotely, as many county employees have had to do over the past few months.
The public will be able to comment on the tentative budget between now and the final vote which is scheduled for June 22nd, 2020.