What’s happening in Cochise County

What’s happening in Cochise County
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COCHISE COUNTY, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - What’s going on in Cochise County this week.

Cochise County to hold public hearing on 2019-2020 budget

Residents are reminded there will be a public hearing on the Cochise County budget for fiscal year 2019-2020 on Tuesday, June 25.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a tentative budget on May 21, when it agreed to hold its current property tax rates. The total budget is $194,785,677, to include $85,097,674 in General Funds and $109,688,003 in Special Revenue Funds.

Also on May 21, the Board:

  • Adopted a tentative 2019-2020 budget of $6,549,965 for the Flood Control District. There is a proposed increase in secondary property taxes of $15,789 or 0.78%. The proposed secondary property taxes on a $100,000 home will be $25.97, an increase of 20 cents.
  • Adopted a tentative 2019-2020 budget of $2,340,665 for the Library District. There is no proposed primary tax rate change for the Library District.
  • Adopted tentative 2019-2020 budgets for the following Light Improvement Districts: Bowie ($11,423), Golden Acres ($9,189), Naco ($8,389), Pirtleville ($12,612) and Sunsites ($26,063). There are no proposed primary tax rate changes for these districts.

The public hearing and final adoption will be held in the Board of Supervisors Hearing Room, Building G, Melody Lane, Bisbee, at 11 a.m.

State law requires the County to publish a Truth In Taxation (TNT) notice when there is an expected increase in property taxes. TNT notices regarding the proposed Flood Control District increase were published in the San Pedro Valley News-Sun on May 29 and June 5, and will be published in the Herald/Review on June 12 and June 19.

The County is not responsible for any increase in tax rates set by local school and special districts, which have their own elected boards.

Collaborative effort results in successful resolution of prison water outage

The collaboration of public and private entities resulted in the successful restoration of the water supply to the state prison in Douglas, following an outage late Friday afternoon.

Cochise County Administrator Ed Gilligan praised the efforts of the organization’s staff, local businesses, volunteers, and regional and state agencies who stepped up swiftly to resolve the issue. The County provides water to the prison via a well located on the adjacent Bisbee Douglas International Airport.

At the regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors on June 11, Gilligan said the County appreciated the assistance it received from KE&G Construction, which carried out trenching and repair work when the system lost pressure due to a drop in the well’s water level. It was subsequently discovered a leak in the water main had caused the level to fall, and this was repaired by KE&G on Monday evening.

Former County facilities employee Hal Harris donated his time and knowledge of the water system to help troubleshoot the issue and was vital in locating the leak.

“We really appreciate his dedication and initiative to help solve the problem,” Gilligan said, adding D&M Well Services also responded quickly. The company dug the well a further 150 feet and provided support throughout the outage.

Facilities Director Joe Casey added, “We would also like to thank the City of Douglas, which provided water points to give the prison a temporary water supply, and APS had a crew on site within a day to begin installation of power needed to bring a second well on-line.”

During the three days the issue was being worked on, the County’s Office of Emergency Services coordinated efforts to ensure the prison received water to maintain a safe and sanitary environment.

The following agencies and organizations were instrumental in providing support:

  • Graham County Office of Emergency Services provided a 6,000-gallon potable water tender.
  • Curfman Showers and Potable Water, and Sundance Fire Department, provided potable water trucks to supply the prison with water for drinking and sanitation.
  • Kary Environmental Services provided technical assistance in accessing and assessing the status of the water tower.
  • Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs provided coordination and information sharing with state agencies.
  • Arizona Water Company (Bisbee) provided a fresh water supply for tanker truck filling.
  • Walmart (Douglas) provided bottled drinking water.
  • Arizona Department of Environmental quality provided water monitoring and technical assistance.
  • Rain for Rent provided potable water storage tanks.

The County would also like to thank the Arizona Department of Corrections for helping to coordinate efforts and working with the County as repairs were ongoing.

Supervisor Ann English, whose District includes BDI Airport and the prison, said, “I don’t think the situation could have been handled any better. Everyone came to the table to resolve the issue as quickly as possible and I would like to add my thanks and appreciation to everyone involved.”

Board of Supervisors agrees to rezoning request, approves liquor licenses

A Cochise County enclave in Sierra Vista will be rezoned to allow new homes to be built, rather than commercial properties.

Applicant Bill Skalak requested approval to replace general business zoning with multiple household residential on a 7.58-acre site at the southeast corner of Avenida Escuela and Blue Bird Drive. The site is currently zoned for both commercial and residential development.

County planner Peter Gardner told the Board of Supervisors at its regular meeting on June 11 the rezoning would be in keeping with the character of the area, which is already home to high density neighborhoods. The change would mean the total number of permitted homes would increase from 56 to 62.

Supervisors Tom Borer, Ann English and Peggy Judd unanimously approved the rezoning request, which had previously been approved by the Planning & Zoning Commission.

In other business the Board approved the following liquor license applications:

  • Series #6 Bar Liquor License for Sierra Vista Wedding & Events, 6398 S. Hwy 92, Hereford.
  • Series #13 Farm Winery License for Woods Bay Winery, 4920 E. Chambers Road, Willcox.
  • Series #7 Beer and Wine Bar Liquor License for Family In and Out, 3854 W. Country Lane, McNeal.

Board chair Peggy Judd commented on the addition of a winery in the Willcox region, saying, “I’m very happy to see our community growing. The wineries contribute to the local economy.”

Contract and grant approvals will improve Cochise County services

The approval of two contracts and two grants by the Board of Supervisors will allow Cochise County to provide more effective and efficient services on behalf of local taxpayers.

At their regular meeting on June 11, Supervisors Tom Borer, Ann English and Peggy Judd approved a request by County Treasurer Cathy Traywick to move forward with a contract for banking services with JP Morgan Chase Bank.

Traywick said the bank has been providing services to the Treasurer’s office for about 15 years and successfully bid to continue the contract via the County’s procurement process. The rates will remain the same as the previous agreement, but the bank will provide additional services, Traywick added.

“They have an excellent team that works with us,” she said, adding the contract will run for three years, with the option to renew for another two.

Significant changes and efficiencies will be made at the Cochise County Jail after the Board also approved a five-year lease contract with CorrecTek for an electronic records system for medical services.

Cochise Health & Social Services Director Carrie Langley said the updated service will replace the current paper system.

“It can be very cumbersome to identify items that need follow up, and that can really slow down the process,” she said.

The agreement will cost up to $154,240 over five years and has been included in the department’s budget.

Supervisor Ann English commented, “We need this. This is something that needs to come online so nurses have a better handle on records.”

The Board also approved a one-year agreement for $195,000 between Cochise Health & Social Services and South Eastern Arizona Governments Organization (SEAGO) for case management services. The SEAGO funding helps the health department to fund its Area Agency on Aging programs, which provides services to care recipients and unpaid family caregivers.

Finally, a grant for $3,600 from the Arizona Supreme Court was approved for training attorneys and staff in the newly formed Legal Advocate Department.

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