Pima County Board flips Stonegarden vote, accepts federal money

Pima County accepts 'Stonegarden' funds reversing last year's vote

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - By a 3-2 vote on Tuesday, May 7 the Pima County Board of Supervisors voted to accept $1.9 million in Operation Stonegarden funding.

The issue became contentious last year when border policy changed under the Trump Administration, which led to children being separated from their parents and asylum seekers being denied entry.

Stonegarden funds, which the county had accepted without question for 12 years, is paid to the county sheriff’s department to defray overtime costs and equipment purchases needed to assist the Border Patrol in its operations.

Much of the money was paid to deputies who patrolled rural sections of the border and to buy equipment which is used generally along the border.

Many believed the funding joined the deputies and border patrol agencies at the hip causing fear in the migrant and Hispanic communities.

At first accepting the funds last year, the county rescinded that decision setting up Tuesday’s vote.

Sharon Bronson, District 3 Supervisor, who has 125 miles of border in her district, changed her vote but with those conditions.

"I have friends on both side of this issue," she said.

She also agreed this was the hardest decision she has made in 22 years on the board and feels the conditions imposed on the sheriff is a compromise.

Sheriff Mark Napier, said those conditions "are in my wheelhouse and I will accept those conditions."

Also, the county will ask some of the funding be repurposed to pay the county for expenses it has incurred because of the humanitarian crisis along the border.

That will need FEMA approval.

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