Bates attends State Legislative Roundtable

County Staff Photo from December 12, 2019

On Dec 10, 2019, I attended the “State Legislative Roundtable” held between our County Supervisors and our LD-6 State Representatives Walt Blackman and Bob Thorpe and State Senator Sylvia Allen. The information below comes from this meeting based upon the County Supervisors Association, 2020 County Legislative Priorities.

Supervisor Ryan spoke on allowing local communities to define short-term rentals (STR) regulations and establishing fair tax levies between home rentals, multiple room/home rentals and traditional hotels. This issue directly affects numerous Flagstaff communities and is rapidly emerging in the county.

The Arizona Long-Term Care System is a state mandated program that requires counties to pay the bills. Supervisor Archuleta expressed her concern over the increasing costs to the Arizona counties with the 2019 bill rising by 8% to $21.7M and projection of 11% increase to county taxpayers in 2020. Overall, Coconino County raises $9M/ year in taxes, but then has to spend $3M for State-mandated programs.  Supervisor Archuleta called upon the State to fund more of the cost through AHCCCS.

Under State law, counties are required to pay for elections and then the State reimburses the counties; however, the March 17 Presidential Preference Election (PPE) budget is $3M low. This means additional expense to county budgets that are already stressed. Senator Allen suggested having the political parties pay for their own preference polls, yet that doesn’t solve the issue for 3 months from now.  Supervisor Babbott is concerned that the Independent and small party voters, 34% of the State registered voters, have to pay for the PPP but don’t get to vote because they are neither Democrat nor Republican. I would note that the exclusion of Independents from the PPE is likely unconstitutional but that is the way our Legislature has written the law so it would take an expensive lawsuit to overturn it or a change to the statute. This is a matter that the Legislature should take up with input like this from the counties.

Supervisor Fowler personally asked the State representatives and has solicited Gov. Ducey to contribute more money to Coconino County because of the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) closure.  Her district will be particularly hard hit and the effects will be felt throughout our county as revenues will decrease with the loss of jobs and people relocating. She is working with US Representative Tom O’Halleran to get Federal money through H.R. 4318. NGS is the only power plant in the US that is partially owned by the federal government. To partially counter the loss of jobs, wages and taxes, Supervisor Fowler is initiating the Colorado Plateau Economic Development Alliance to advance tourism and build alternative energy production.

County Attorney Bill Ring proposed the State fund a program to allow law enforcement officers the choice of taking individuals with mental health problems to mental health care as opposed to taking them to jail.

Sheriff Driscoll spoke to the need of having “School Resource Officers” in schools and working to get law enforcement and the Department of Education to work together.

As is clear, our county faces multiple challenges and dwindling resources to address those challenges. A principle challenge I will address when you elect me to the Board of Supervisors is to either reduce the amount of your county tax dollars going to the state or increase the return of those tax dollars for your local benefit. I am the best candidate to get this done because I have always worked in a cooperative manner, looking for where people agree and building on those agreements. I ask you your help in becoming the next County Supervisor for District 4.

Please contibute to my campaign to serve you. Thank you for your support! ~ Sincerely, Bryan Bates

Published by Ann Heitland

Ann Heitland is a writer, living in Flagstaff, AZ. She's also a golfer, ex-lawyer, retired real estate broker, and active Democrat.