Pinal County Used and Surplus On line Auction

FLORENCE – Are you searching for a gift for that hard-to-shop-for-person in your life? Pinal County may have what you are looking for.

Beginning on Friday, December 11, the county will begin selling used and surplus items through an online auction site.

Finance Director Levi Gibson said there will be items ranging from used computers to heavy equipment for sale on the site,az/browse/home

. The public will have 14 days to bid on items the highest bidder will win the auction. The heavy equipment will have a 28 day bid window. The person who wins the bidding process will have to come to Pinal County to pick up their items.

‘Most items that are being replaced will be on the site,’ Gibson said. ‘All items will be sold ‘as is’. No guarantees or warranties on the equipment sold.’

The money earned from the online auction will go into a capital replacement fund for various equipment purchases. If the item sold is a used truck, the money from the auction would be designated to the capital replacement fund for vehicles.

Registration for the auction site is free of charge. Any items sold will have a 10 percent buyer’s premium charge, along with the Town of Florence sales tax of 8.7 percent.

Source:  Pinal County Government Website

Transportation bill includes expansion through Pinal County

Posted: Saturday, December 5, 2015 10:54 am

A sweeping transportation bill approved by Congress this week includes a provision to expand the length of the proposed new Interstate 11 through Pinal County.

The House and Senate each approved the bill with bipartisan support Thursday, and it was signed by President Barack Obama on Friday.

 The portion of the proposed I-11 between Las Vegas, Nevada, and Wickenburg already had a federal designation, but the I-11 provision in the newly approved transportation bill expands it to the entire proposed route.

That extends it southward to the U.S.-Mexico border and northward in Nevada to Reno.

No funding is set aside for I-11, but supporters say the expanded designation of the route helps the planning process and makes it more likely to get funding.

U.S. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., and Dina Titus, D-Nev., added language to the legislation that classifies the entire I-11 route as one of the nation’s High Priority Corridors.

Titus added another provision in the bill to authorize a new program called the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects, which would ideally find funds for projects like I-11.

Last month Maricopa Mayor Christian Price said he’s pleased with the added provisions because it increases the chances of obtaining federal funding for I-11.

If the road is built, Price thinks the project will be a “fabulous addition” not only for Maricopa but for the entire state. It will be a “slow-moving process” finding the multiple revenue streams to fund the freeway, Price added, though he plans to work with state and federal representatives to make the project happen.

The Arizona Department of Transportation completed a two-year feasibility study last year, which focused on building a route that runs from Hoover Dam south to the U.S.-Mexico border.

ADOT Director John Halikowski said the I-11 project is one of “several important corridors in the state highway system that, with the necessary investment, will help ensure Arizona’s future and quality of life.”

Apache Junction Loses Fifth School Override Vote In 8 Years

Nov. 4, 2015

The Apache Junction district expects to save $150,000 on food service, transportation and utilities by moving to the four-day week. (Photo by Alexandra Olgin – KJZZ)

Apache Junction Unified School district is one of a handful of districts that appear to be losing override and bond elections. To cope with previous budget cuts, the district had moved to a four-day school week this year.

This is the fifth spending increase Apache Junction residents have rejected in the past eight years, so this didn’t come as much of a surprise to Superintendent Chad Wilson.

“The money hurts,” he said. “But the punch in the gut that the majority of the community does not seem to support us or education is way more problematic.”

The override would have provided the district with $3.5 million to help reduce class sizes, raise teacher pay and lower the cost of pay-to-play sports.

A group of parents, teachers and other residents had canvassed and called voters for months in support of this override. One of the reasons for the push was because the spending increase would have allowed the district to consider returning to the five-day week schedule. Mesa Public Schools, the biggest district in the state, neighbors Apache Junction to the east.

“Our neighboring districts have more financial resources to run their business than we have,” Wilson said. “I believe the failure of the override makes it that much more problematic for us to move forward competitively.”

Wilson expected this 4,500-student district to lose several hundred students this year, partially because of the four-day week and elementary school closure


APS drops bid for solar fee increase, blames “political gamesmanship”

Arizona Public Service dropped its bid to increase its solar fee today and called out “political gamesmanship” by solar groups that muddied the request to increase the fee.

APS asked the Arizona Corporation Commission to increase its solar fee from an average of $5 monthly to $21. The utility says solar users don’t pay their fair share to access and maintain the electric grid, putting costs onto non-solar customers.

“Unfortunately, what should have been a relatively simple decision-making process has been turned into political theater by attacks and distortions from rooftop solar leasing companies that seek to paralyze Arizona regulators,” APS said in a statement, released Friday.

The commission voted in August to move forward with a hearing now on the solar fee. Solar groups have said the fee needs to be considered as part of a full rate case, where other options to address cost shifts would be on the table.

Instead of deciding on the solar fee increase, APS suggests the commission undertake a hearing that would address the cost it takes APS to serve its customers, both with and without solar, and consider how those costs affect the way the utility’s rates are designed.

“We hope our proposal will provide an alternative for the ACC to move forward with a much-needed discussion about how to update electricity pricing to reflect energy innovations like rooftop solar, battery storage and home energy management systems,” APS said.

If a hearing on the cost of service issue happens soon, the outcomes can be used to address cost shifts in APS’s upcoming rate case, expected to be filed in mid-2016.

In recent weeks, attorneys representing former commissioners and solar company Sunrun asked for the recusal of three Corporation Commissioners from the APS proceeding because of biases.

More than $3 million flooded the Corporation Commission elections in 2014 to support commissioners Tom Forese and Doug Little, and many speculate the money came from APS or its parent company, Pinnacle West. Because of the amount of money spent to elect Forese and Little, attorney Hugh Hallman argued the two regulators are biased and must recuse themselves from the APS solar fee proceeding. Another complaint alleges Commissioner Bob Stump has repeatedly shown his bias against solar companies in social media posts and interviews.

The Alliance for Solar Choice asked for a rehearing on the commission’s decision to hear the solar fee increase proposal now because, the solar group claims, it’s unconstitutional.

In its filing, APS calls the motions to rehear a “desperate attempt to avoid addressing the issues.”

APS sharply criticized solar groups, particularly TASC, which counts solar giants SolarCity and Sunrun as members. APS alleges TASC is using personal attacks and public accusations to undermine the solar fee discussion and avoid talking about real issues.

“They will do anything to delay or change the subject. Take away their ability to engage in innuendo, personal attacks and bumper-sticker sloganeering and they have nothing left to offer,” APS said.

APS said it cannot sustain its level of solar deployment without addressing the costs that are shifted to non-solar customers, and the cost shift continues to grow and needs to be addressed urgently.

“These California-based solar leasing companies have no stake in Arizona beyond the money they can make leasing rooftop solar panels to homeowners, pocketing the tax credits, selling the leases to financial firms and moving on,” APS said.

Court Rich, an attorney for TASC, said it’s great that APS decided to forgo its solar fee, but the accusations against solar groups are “really passive-aggressive.”

“It’s like the little kid stomping their foot going back to their room, but still doing what their parents told them to do,” Rich said.

Rich said he needs to analyze the utility’s idea for a cost of service hearing and what that would mean for solar before commenting on the merits of such a hearing. But he said APS’s move shows the utility knows increasing the solar fee outside of a rate case is wrong.

“APS is really going to be lecturing the solar industry on how to act and what to be doing? That’s ridiculous,” Rich said.


I Deserve It! GUEST EDITORIAL – Jeff Struble

Jeff Struble is a local Apache Junction Businessman

I find it interesting when people complain about how the government spends money. Then when it is proposed that money be taken away from a government program that they receive benefit from, they are all up in arms about the evilness of the politicians. Or when people complain about the special tax breaks and credits that other people get. Then that same person tries to find a tax break or credit for themselves, because, “by golly, I deserve it”. This is the premise; I deserve it because I am me, and they don’t because they are them. That is what people say no matter their gender, age, economic standing or political persuasion.

This premise is evident in all levels of life. Be it neighborhood, city, county, state or national. People say, “Well I deserve it. I deserve the benefit. I have the right to receive it. I live in the United States, so therefore I am entitled”. This is bogus. You only deserve what you earn. Only in the last 100 years, or so, have we developed this attitude. Before that it was taught and demonstrated that you put in a hard day’s work, you do what you are supposed to do and you will receive the pay that was promised. This attitude has been lost by some. And it needs to be rebirthed. Henry Ford stated, “The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar, instead of how little he can give for a dollar, is bound to succeed”.

The people of the United States are becoming dependent on their government to provide things that they can and should provide for themselves. Our founding fathers wrote a magnificent document in 1776, The Declaration of Independence. The purpose was to break ourselves away from a tyrannical king and to make this country free to live, prosper and to only be dependent on ourselves and our neighbors. The fact is that there was a huge disagreement in the late 1780’s when the Constitution was written about the level of power that the federal government should have. At that time is was determined that the only duties of the federal government was to protect us from enemies of our country, ensure a just and equitable commerce between states and to provide for the public welfare.

Obviously there are disagreements as to the definition of each of those duties of the federal government. I am going to focus on the third duty, to provide for the public welfare. The operative word is public. It does not say private. This is because the founders were stressing the need for people to be self-reliant. They were also working under the idea that a person will make choices and they would then have to deal with the consequences of those choices. This is a very basic principle. But as I stated earlier, people are fine with others dealing with the consequences of their choices. It is much easier to blame someone else for the problem.

Public welfare means those things that a government should provide that a charity or private individual or company cannot provide. These are things like, air traffic control, parks, historic monuments, roadways and K-12 schools. Public welfare does not mean utilities, recreation centers, sports complexes, animal shelters, museums or art shows. There can be a healthy debate about things liked busses and local trains/subways because they are a substitute for the roadways.

It is estimated that in 2012 the government granted $700 billion to non-profits to provide services to the public. I say that this is wrong. The government is taking my money and giving it to organization that the bureaucrats deem are worthy. I feel that it would be better spent if the money was not taken from the citizens and they would decide whom to give the money. The argument is that the people will not provide the funds to the non-profits. If that is the case then the people do not want the services provided. There are government agencies and non-profits that are set up to solve a problem that never gets solved because it is job security and a large revenue stream.

We, as Americans, are a very giving people. When we see a need: we provide the money and labor, solve the problem and then move on to the next issue. It is a very basic part of human nature. It is the biblical action of tithing. If each of us were to give 10% of our earnings to the charity of our choice the problems would be well on their way to being handled. People would have personal satisfaction and the charities would be better held accountable. The charities would have a core value of keeping the giving public content. With the government involved they only have to keep a handful of bureaucrats happy. There should never be person or group that becomes wealthy from receiving grants and subsidies from the government to provide services. This is another example of redistribution of wealth.

So what is the solution? It all starts at the local level. We need to elect local officials that will live by the three Constitutional duties: protect us, ensure equal and just commerce and provide for the public welfare. We, as a community, need to organize new and support current entities that service the people in need. As this transformation takes hold on the local level it will spread to the county, state and federal level. This in turn will mean that the government will need to take less and less money from the citizens. Then the people will have more money to provide to charities, provide jobs and spend on private businesses. Think of how we, as people, and the country will be better off.

This action will not be easy. Thomas Fuller wisely said, “All things are difficult before they are easy”. And it will not happen over night. It will take persistence, hard work, sacrifice and a strong leader with a vision. This will need to be a leader with integrity. You will know this person by the guideline that Denis Waitley gave us, “A life lived with integrity- even if it lacks the trappings of fame and fortune is a shining star in whose light others may follow in the years to come”. Is there a person that you know who may fit this description, be it local state or federal? Is that person you? If you cannot find the leader, then go out and do it yourself. There are people that will follow you if the cause is good, just and honorable.

Jeff Struble

County Assistant Resigns— Cites ‘Stress & Unofficial’ Work

Highstreet was assigned personal tasks by Pinal County official and
his wife — “not county business”

Lora Highstreet, assistant
to Pinal County Supervisor
Todd House, resigned last
month citing stress and too
much time attending to “unofficial”
tasks that House and
his wife assigned to her.
In an email to House announcing
her resignation,
Highstreet said what began
as her helping with a personal
matter grew into her
being treated “as a personal
assistant for you and Tuni
(House’s wife) working on
things [that] are not official
county business.”
Tuni House runs Paws 4 Life,
a non-profit organization that
trains service dogs and handlers—Todd
House serves as
treasurer for the organization.
In her resignation, Highstreet
also refers to duties assigned
to her to do on county time
such as assisting with Paws 4
Life business as well as planning
vacations and making
doctor appointments for the
Following is a transcript of
the email:
From: Lora Highstreet
To: Todd House
Sent: Saturday, August 22,
2015 6:04 PM
Subject: Resignation
At this time I feel that it
is best if we part ways.
There has been too much
over the last few weeks
that have convinced me
I’m doing the right thing.
Since I started working for
you things have escalated
from helping on a personal
matter to being a personal
assistant for you and Tuni
working on things that are
not official county business.
I don’t understand
what you guys did to plan
vacations or doctor appointments
before I started.
I don’t feel that downloading
Paws pics and sending
email and invitations are
county business. There are
several reasons for my resignation
that I will prepare
in a resignation letter. The
stress and unhappiness is
actually making me sick.
Please do not call or show
up at my house this I would
like some quiet time to try
and get healthier.
Supervisor Todd House
Highstreet began working as
executive assistant for House
after his election to Pinal
County Supervisor, District 5
in November 2012. In February
2014, Highstreet was one
of three Board of Supervisors
executive assistants to receive
a job reclassification to Assistant
to the Board of Supervisor,
Grade 129 and a pay raise.
At a time when the Board of
Supervisors (BOS) faced a $9
million deficit and only OK’d
2.5% merit increases for other
County employees, House
had Highstreet’s position reclassified,
circumventing the
county’s human resources
department recommendation.
Her salary was bumped
28%—from $46,985 per year
to $57,242.
At the February 5, 2014,
BOS meeting, House defended
the reclassification for
Highstreet saying that the five
districts have very different
needs and require a different
skill set from their assistants.
Supervisors Steve Miller of
Casa Grande and Pete Rios of
Dudleyville strongly opposed
the move and voted against
the pay increases.
When reached for comment,
Supervisor House said
“I can’t really comment on
an employer/employee relationship.
All I can say is that
she resigned, she was a good
There is currently no indication
from the Board of Supervisors
regarding an official
inquiry into the circumstances
of Highstreet’s resignation.

Source:  Apache Junction News ( AJNEWS.COM )

Impeachment resolution filed for EPA head Gina McCarthy

It may ultimately be unsuccessful, but nonetheless it is a good thing that Arizona Representative Paul Gosar has filed articles of impeachment for Gina McCarthy, head of the EPA. A press release from his office notes that this:

begins the impeachment process for Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), after she committed perjury and made several false statements at multiple congressional hearings, and as a result, is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors:

“For far too long, Congress has allowed unelected bureaucrats and executive branch officials to slowly bend and break the laws of this country in order to further their own partisan political agendas. We have reached a breaking point where the American people have no faith in the fundamental checks and balances put in place by our founders to protect liberties and freedoms.

“On numerous occasions, Gina McCarthy not only broke the law by lying to Congress, but in doing so she also lied to the American people in order to force misguided and overreaching regulations, which have no scientific basis, down our throats. Her agencies new mandates will kill hundreds of thousands of jobs and cause untold economic harm to communities throughout the country. She must be held accountable for violating the rule of law and the only way for that to happen is through the impeachment process.”

The text of the legislation can be found here.

Writing in the Washington Examiner, Daniel Chaitin explains:

The resolution is the latest saga in the battle between congressional Republicans and the EPA, which many Republicans accuse of executive overreach.

Agriculture groups, mining companies and other groups in rural regions have expressed concerns that the water rule might pile unwanted regulations on them.

During multiple hearings spanning from February to July, Gosar said McCarthy testified that regulations on previously non-jurisdictional waters were developed based on scientific data. However, memos between officials at the Army Corps of Engineers, which is helping implement the water rule, indicate that was not necessarily true.

Gosar also said McCarthy provided false statements under oath when she claimed that the EPA had met all of the rule’s legal and scientific deficiencies raised by the Army Corps of Engineers. Gosar said memos and testimony from Army Corps officials dispute those claims.

“Administrator McCarthy committed perjury and made several false statements at multiple congressional hearings,” Gosar said, “and as a result, is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors — an impeachable offense.”

Gosar has previously unsuccessfully tried to impeach then-AG Eric Holder and IRS chief John Koskinen. Unless Speaker Boehner throws his support behind this move against McCarthy, it is likely to fail, as did the first two attempts.Nonetheless, it is a good start, and with further revelations of EPA misconduct, it might even gain momentum. The Constitution provides for impeachment because the Founders understood the danger of executive misconduct.  They never anticipated that Congress would delegate so many powers to the bureaucracy, including the making of de-facto laws (called “regulations”), enforcement of penalties (taking on judicial functions) and even the issuing of subpoenas with no judicial review in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The administrative bureaucracy has subsumed the functions of the other two branches of government and must be curbed. Exercise of Congressional power of subpoena is an effective tactic and ought to be employed far more often.


County to dismantle fair commission Nonprofit organization now runs event

Steven King/Dispatch file

FLORENCE –– As part of a plan it set in motion in 2010, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors has taken another step to move away from direct oversight of the county fair.

At a work session Wednesday, the board gave direction to staff to dismantle the Pinal County Fair Commission, which was created in 2011 to oversee the transition of the fair’s control from county staff to a nonprofit organization that reports back to the county. A formal vote will be taken at a future regular session of the Board of Supervisors to complete the process of ending the fair commission.

The goal of the plan to move the fair to nonprofit control a few years ago was to have it become self-sustaining, meaning no taxpayer dollars would be needed to host the annual event. 

Supervisor Steve Miller, R-Casa Grande, asked Wednesday what progress had been made toward that end. 

“Since 2011 the number of improvements that have gone on have been a lot more than what would have been had we still been managing it on our own,” answered Director of Open Space and Trails Kent Taylor, who had the responsibility of managing the fairgrounds for a year in 2008 before the transition.

From a financial perspective, the county budgeted more than $500,000 for fair expenditures in fiscal year 2011, but after that, only a total of $200,000 was spent in fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

The decision to get rid of the commission, especially in light of the agreement with the nonprofit Central Arizona Fair Association, which has reporting obligations to the county as part of its contract, was an easy one.

“There’s no reason to have a duplication of two committees doing the same thing, with one doing all the work and the other not doing anything,” Miller said.

CAFA Executive Director Karen Searle said any major decisions on changes to the fairgrounds would go back to the Board of Supervisors even without the fair commission.

“It’s the county’s property and we love it and respect that,” she said.


Pinal County considers special road tax

Posted: Friday, June 12, 2015 11:09 am

FLORENCE — It’s no secret Pinal County is facing a financial crisis, and county leaders are now scrambling to find more revenue to keep the ship afloat.

People can argue over the reasons for the fiscal doom and gloom, but one thing is certain — the county’s reserve fund is dwindling fast. On May 27, the Board of Supervisors passed a preliminary budget with a proposed increase in the primary property tax from $3.79 to $3.99 per $100 of net assessed valuation.

The preliminary budget, which passed by a 3-2 vote, also includes a 4 percent across-the-board budget cut for all county departments, which follows a 2 percent budget cut passed earlier this year.

But it appears those moves aren’t enough. The board has determined it needs to find additional revenue sources if it’s going to stem the bleeding, partly because of continuing and new cuts to Pinal County estimated at $5.8 million as a result of the recently passed state budget.

The board held a special meeting Wednesday to discuss the possibility of creating a jail district or a regional transportation authority.

Membership in a regional transportation authority would include Pinal County, every municipality in the county and Central Arizona Governments.

Under an existing half-cent road tax in Pinal County for transportation, annual revenues averaged about $16 million a year over the past decade. County Manager Greg Stanley said that revenue is divided among all the municipalities and the county.

The RTA would institute a separate half-cent excise tax, and all the revenue would go to the RTA. That revenue would likely be used on one of three large-scale transportation projects in the county — Interstate 11, a North-South corridor or an East-West parkway corridor.

This kind of tax must be approved by the voters, and board members were comfortable with that.

“If the voters in an election say, ‘Nope, it’s not important,’ then I think we, as the Board of Supervisors and leaders in the county, have to accept those results,” Smith said.

However, Smith added he hopes people will “realize the value” in voting to create a RTA and institute a half-cent excise tax. He said he’d like to see it put to a special election next March.

Smith said for Pinal County to be successful in economic development and reach its full potential, it will have to make that type of commitment.

Supervisor Steve Miller, R-Casa Grande, said he also supports moving forward with putting the RTA issue on the ballot.

“Transportation dollars are getting harder and harder to get,” he said. “We’re gonna have to figure out ways to fund some of these transportation projects. I’ve always said Pinal County is kind of transportation challenged, with our infrastructure.”

Supervisors were not as receptive to creating a jail district.

The jail district would provide revenue through an excise tax or a secondary property tax. An excise tax is usually included in the price of things like gasoline or hotel rooms.

Chris Keller, legal counsel for the Board of Supervisors, said jail districts are already in place in Coconino and Apache counties, but he added he didn’t know how much revenue the districts brought those counties.

Supervisor Anthony Smith, R-Maricopa, said a jail district didn’t meet a couple of his criteria.

“I don’t want to add another tax, another burden to the people … unless there is some specific reason for doing so, or that it’s time-limited,” he said. “To me, neither one of these qualifications exist with a jail district.”

Smith said the revenue would go toward maintenance and operations for the Pinal County jail, which is already financed through the county general fund. He said the money should instead go toward specific projects.

In theory, a jail district would help pay for high costs associated with running the jail. But board Vice Chairman Pete Rios, D-Dudleyville, said the county could help finance those costs another way.

The goal, he said, is to fill hundreds of beds that are empty at the jail after the cancellation of the county’s contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“We’re currently, in some respects, through the Sheriff’s Office, working with the Department of Corrections to try to see if we can get a contract with the state of Arizona to fill 1,000 of those beds,” he said


CAC board decides to reduce tax increase to 20%

Posted: Tuesday, June 9, 2015 5:36 pm | Updated: 5:53 pm, Tue Jun 9, 2015.

SIGNAL PEAK — The Central Arizona College Governing board voted to cut its property increase down to 20 percent Tuesday afternoon during a special meeting held in the Pence Center on the college’s Signal Peak Campus.

Last month the board gave approval to a $105 million budget that included a property tax increase of close to 85 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, or nearly a 45 percent increase. That increase now has been cut down to a 20 percent increase.

A number of people spoke at Tuesday’s meeting before the board took its vote. There has been vocal opposition to the tax increase including a recall effort directed at the four board members who voted for it by a committee called Citizens for Fair Taxation.

More information on the meeting will appear in Wednesday’s print edition of the Casa Grande Dispatch and in the eEdition online. To subscribe call 520-423-8685 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.