In response to the escalating financial pressures and expected cost increases due to the state’s reallocation of expenses, Pima County Administrator Jan Lesher issued a memorandum on Tuesday. The memo called upon elected officials and department heads to adopt measures aimed at addressing the worsening financial conditions.
Financial Challenges Prompt County Action
District 4 Supervisor Steve Christy, speaking at a Green Valley Council Board of Representatives meeting, acknowledged that the proposed measures might cause discomfort. He characterized the situation as Pima County facing the consequences of its financial decisions, stating, “I kind of call it Pima County’s chickens are coming home to roost.”
Christy, while expressing support for Lesher’s proposals, questioned why such fiscal discipline wasn’t a consistent practice. Drawing from his business experience, he emphasized the importance of regular expense reduction, suggesting that the current measures shouldn’t be perceived as new or innovative.
Lesher’s Strategic Measures
Lesher, emphasizing the need for long-term organizational sustainability, outlined strategic actions for navigating economic challenges. These include eliminating vacant positions, delaying start dates, evaluating capital projects, and prioritizing the use of special revenue funds to cover essential expenses.
Identified Reductions for FY23-24
Lesher called upon department heads and elected officials to identify expenditure reductions for the remainder of FY23-24. The suggested measures include:
- Reducing Non-Essential Travel: Considering cutbacks on non-essential travel and related expenses.
- Temporarily Suspending Programs: Postponing professional development and training programs temporarily.
- Prioritizing Maintenance: Prioritizing essential equipment maintenance over new purchases.
- Postponing Capital Projects: Delaying non-critical capital projects.
Addressing Challenges Head-On
Lesher acknowledged that these measures might pose challenges but emphasized the importance of swift action in response to fiscal realities. The county is urged to prepare for a hiring freeze, voluntarily reduce personnel staffing levels, and place a hold on discretionary purchases like office supplies and furniture.
Unprecedented Fund Balance Approval
For the first time, Lesher noted that the Board of Supervisors has approved an unrestricted fund balance in the county. This policy is designed to ensure sufficient working capital to meet cash flow needs and address unforeseen expenditures related to economic downturns or emergencies.
Ensuring Long-Term Fiscal Stability
In conclusion, the county’s proactive approach to tightening fiscal belts reflects a commitment to navigating unfavorable economic trends. Lesher’s outlined measures, if implemented effectively, can contribute to the long-term sustainability of Pima County’s organization amidst challenging financial conditions.