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FLORENCE — Amid debates over the benefits of creating a “district administrator” position for each Pinal County supervisor and how much these new jobs should cost, the Board of Supervisors voted to table the matter.

Toward the end of Wednesday’s meeting, Supervisor Anthony Smith, R-Maricopa, nominated Supervisor Todd House as the board’s new chairman. House was approved 3-2, with Supervisors Steve Miller and Mike Goodman voting no. Supervisor Pete Rios was approved as the board’s vice chairman by unanimous vote.

On the subject of hiring district administrators, County Manager Greg Stanley said he liked the option of introducing it along with other budget issues. The supervisors expect to receive a revenue forecast for the fiscal year beginning July 1 at their Feb. 28 meeting.

Rios told his fellow supervisors that he has many communities that need help, and “a lot of issues where I could use a professional staffer.” On a day when three groups ask him to meet and he can only see one, “I just upset two groups.”

But Board Chairman Miller said he hasn’t seen the need for it, although “our county is changing,” and there may be some needs that aren’t being covered. He said perhaps the better option would be for each supervisor to have the budget to use as he sees fit. “I think each district is unique enough, and has different challenges, we may need that flexibility with our budgets.”

Miller further noted the board’s previously stated wish to cut taxes.

“I think we have a real challenge to even hold the property tax flat going forward,” Miller said.

House added that if the board truly wishes to lower the property tax, “we’re running out of time,” and it’s shaping up to be a difficult budget year already.

Rios recommended phasing in the demand on the budget by hiring Smith’s administrator first, then hiring two more administrators next year and the last two the following year. If an individual supervisor doesn’t see the need for the position, he doesn’t have to hire one, Rios said. If a supervisor believes “my administrative assistant is doing a hell of a job and that’s all I need,” that’s fine, Rios said.

With the measure headed for failure — with only he and Smith ready to vote for it — Rios said he wouldn’t be making a motion Wednesday.

House recommended the supervisors wait to have the conversation in conjunction with the budget, “to see where the chips are falling.”

In “call to the public” at the beginning of the meeting, Roberto Reveles of Gold Canyon urged the supervisors to take on more professional staff to help them meet the demands of their offices.

“You remain limited by an outdated staffing past,” Reveles said. “You’re on an unlevel playing field with professionally staffed Pima and Maricopa counties.” He said hiring district administrators would not be bigger government “but smarter government.”

Utility line warranties

After taking a break from the public meeting to hear legal advice behind closed doors, the supervisors voted to offer a “residential utility protection program” to county residents. Residents will have an option to buy warranties that protect them from the cost of water or sewer line breaks on private property.

Three companies responded to the county’s request for proposals, and Utility Service Partners Inc. received the highest score from county staff. Staff then negotiated with Utility Service Partners for a lower cost to residents and better commissions to Pinal County, according to a memo to the supervisors.

The county logo will be available to the contractor for marketing purposes.

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