Tombstone has joined opposition against legislation that would require Cochise County to expand the Board of Supervisors by two.
State Senator Gail Griffin, a Republican representing District 25, originally introduced SB1483 to require any county with a population of 125,000 or greater to have a board of supervisors with five members. Cochise County, with 131,000 residents, has three elected supervisors.
The Arizona Legislature later amended the bill to mandate that when a county has a population of 150,000 or greater, voters from the county could choose to increase to a five-member board.
Anne English, Cochise District 2 Supervisor, said this legislation is directed specifically at Cochise County. She said Cochise has done well with three supervisors and that creating more expenses to represent fewer people would not benefit the county.
“Why do we need this? No one has petitioned to put this on the ballot,” said Supervisor English. “I am surprised that Senator Griffin would force us to increase government.”
Councilman Don Taylor said that he was most concerned about where the funding might be cut to pay the $250,000 to $300,000 needed to support the new positions. That money would be used for salaries and related support expenses, including staff.
Taylor said he was worried the money might come from the Cochise road project, which would cut the program’s funding by about 33 percent.
Councilwoman Stacey Korbeck-Reeder said she was concerned that the existing districts would be split if Cochise College’s precincts are used as guidelines for the new county districts.
“Tombstone and other rural areas in Cochise County would be under-served,” she said.
Senator Griffin defended her position, saying, “I feel it is good government to have a five-member board. It allows the supervisors easier communication with the citizens as well as other members of the board.”
She added that the current board members would be responsible for deciding how the county would be split if voters chose to increase the size of the board. She also said that the money could not be taken from the road fund but did not specify where it would come from.
Sierra Vista passed a similar resolution on March 27.
The amended version of SB1483 has passed in the House and Senate and is awaiting final deliberations before the final vote in the Senate.