FLORENCE — Pinal County officials are considering creating a $100,000 contingency fund to reimburse the Sheriff’s Office for overtime, travel and other expenses related to protecting Arizona’s southern border, if called upon to do so.
Supervisor Kevin Cavanaugh, R-Coolidge, proposed the fund at Wednesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. He noted that Gov. Doug Ducey said in his state of the state address that he and other governors are making plans to actively protect the border.
Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer told the board creating such a fund would not be a simple process and would require budget amendments. He said if it’s something the board wishes to do, he asked that the board give direction to county staff to bring an item before the board for formal action.
Supervisor Mike Goodman, R-San Tan Valley, asked that the fund return for a vote on the board’s next regular agenda on Feb. 2.
The goal is to pay sheriff’s personnel for any special duties they’re called on to serve while the county awaits reimbursement from the state.
“In the meantime, I don’t think our people should go without and not be compensated, so this would allow us to bridge that gap,” Volkmer told the board.
“The concern is if there is an emergency or crisis, and they say ‘Get people there,’ knowing our sheriff, knowing the men and women who serve our community, they’re going to go down there,” Volkmer continued.
Noel Reck of Casa Grande was skeptical. He commented to the board that he agreed with Vice Chairman Jeff Serdy, R-Apache Junction, that sheriff’s personnel were needed at the Jan. 15 Trump rally in the interest of public safety.
“I would suggest that an audit of expenses incurred by the county for that rally should be instituted to avoid being stiffed, as has been the case for so many other cities and counties where these rallies have been held,” Reck said.
As for $100,000 to cover a potential sheriff’s mission to the border, “I ask why? At whose suggestion? Whose request?” Reck said the money could be better spent in Pinal County to analyze and address “the push-pull factors” that bring people to the border.
“Remember the Irish didn’t leave their homeland just for fun. They were pushed out, and then pulled in, just like many on the border today,” Reck said. He said immigration is a complex issue that won’t be solved by a foray into Pima County for the benefit of the American Sheriff Network.
“I’m sure there are many local agencies, dealing firsthand with the issues involved, that would love to partner with you and use this money in a far more productive manner,” Reck concluded.