Over the past decade, in response to the recession, Navajo County has systematically trimmed its workforce and found ways to be leaner and more efficient. County government ought to be lean and efficient. This past year, however, for the first time in recent memory, the county was forced to begin to cut entire programs previously provided (the closure of the Juvenile Detention Center and elimination of Child Support Enforcement through the County Attorney’s Office). Those aggressive cuts have helped to stabilize the county financially. In FY 2018-2019 we are healthy.
Unfortunately, by December of 2019, the coal-powered Navajo Generating Station (NGS) located in Coconino County will close. The closure of NGS will directly impact the Kayenta Coal Mine, located in Navajo County, which is the primary provider of coal to NGS. In addition, the coal powered Cholla Power Plant, also located in Navajo County, is scheduled to close in the near future. The loss of revenue from the coal-powered industry will significantly limit the county’s ability to provide many reliable services going forward.
Without a revenue replacement going forward, every service the county provides will be impacted in a very real way: Public Safety, rehabilitation programs like Drug Court and Veteran’s Court, road maintenance and improvement, timely issuance of building permits, timely recording of real estate transactions, victim services, prosecution, indigent defense, timely payroll for school districts, inmate medical costs for cities and towns, funding for libraries and many more. All of us rely on local government to provide needed services in a timely, efficient and effective manner.
Although the thought of a 1/3 cent sales tax is not exciting to me, I see a great need for it. The sales tax equitably allows county residents and visitors alike to share in the cost. It will also return monies to the cities and towns that are currently being spent on the jail, to be reallocated locally. I will be voting “Yes” for the establishment of a Jail District and invite you to do the same.