Good Morning Winslow: county budget in a crunch

Navajo County Sheriff Kelly “KC” Clark presents information to the Winslow Chamber during the Sept. 5 meeting. (Todd Roth/NHO)

Navajo County Sheriff Kelly “KC” Clark presents information to the Winslow Chamber during the Sept. 5 meeting. (Todd Roth/NHO)

WINSLOW, Ariz. — On Sept. 5, Navajo County Manager Glenn Kephart and Sheriff Kelly “KC” Clark were presented by the Winslow Chamber of Commerce during a monthly mixer.

Information was given on a potential budget crisis for the city of Winslow. During the meeting, information was given on how the county plans to avert a financial crisis.

According to the county and sheriff, a future financial crisis in Navajo County is predicated on the planned closing of Navajo Generating Station and Cholla Power Plants in December 2019. Plant closures to stop coal mining in Navajo County could result in a loss of $1.6 million dollars in sales tax and $925 thousand dollars in property tax revenues. If alternative revenues making up the $2.5 million dollar short-fall are not found, significant reductions in public safety and all other county operations could potentially occur.

According to Clark, 17 percent of patrol deputies and 13 detention officers could be eliminated. Emergency response time will be increased significantly and prosecutions will be delayed or stopped. Delays in voting, court services, real-estate transactions, payroll for school districts and financial services to fire districts could occur.

Kephart proposed a solution embodied in Proposition 419.

Proposition 419 proposes the creation of a Jail District, financed by a one-third cent county sales tax. It would provide funding for public safety not dependent on coal. Kephart said it does not build a new jail. The proposition would sunset in 20 years unless reauthorized and provides funding for current jail operations.

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