Tough Times Drag Budget Fight to Court

PHOENIX (CN) – The Maricopa County treasurer says the Board of Supervisors is retaliating against his office for its notice to the board that it didn’t give him enough money to send out property tax notices. The Board denied Charles Hoskins’ $4.3 million budget proposal for 2009-2010, approving $2.6 million instead.

     The board’s budget doesn’t provide enough money for Hoskins to perform his duties or for the “projected payroll” of his staff, he claims in Maricopa County Court. And he says it is insufficient for the treasurer’s office to send property tax notices to taxpayers.
     The board approved $3.4 million for the treasurer’s office for 2008 to 2009 – which was not enough to send out the notices either, Hoskins says. Hoskins says he notified the board about this and requested $600,000 to finish sending out the tax bills, causing the board to retaliate against him and take control of his budget.
     Hoskins claims the board cut his budget for office supplies to find money to do an audit, which turned up nothing improper. He claims his office was the only one required to submit a line-item budget for its proposal.
     Hoskins says he tried to negotiate with County Manager David Smith and Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson, but they walked out of a meeting with him.
     The treasurer’s office needs to hire two cashiers, one resolution specialist and two accountants, Hoskins says, but the county Office of Management and Budget won’t permit it unless Hoskins accepts the $2.6 million budget proposal.
     The treasurer’s office budget was $5.2 million for 2007 to 2008.
     Hoskins wants the Board of Supervisors ordered to provide his office with no less than a $3.4 million and to approve the five job postings. And he seeks declaratory judgment that the board can’t force his office to seek approval for expenses when it hasn’t exceeded its budget.
     Hoskins is represented by L. Eric Dowell with Ogletree, Deakins, Nash.

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