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Yavapai County supervisors aren’t quite ready to lift the county hiring freeze even though county staff anticipates a balanced fiscal year 2009-10 budget.

Yavapai County Administrator Julie Ayers asked the board Monday, June 15, if it felt comfortable lifting the freeze. She said all departments met the board’s 7.5 percent budget cut and that lifting the freeze would give department heads the power to fill vacancies as long as doing so didn’t cut into their 7.5 percent cut.

yavapai-county-sealLifting the freeze now would be premature, Yavapai County District 2 Supervisor Tom Thurman said. In another month, however, the board can have the conversation again.

Originally, the county went into a hiring chill in January 2008, which meant the board asked department heads to be conservative when filling positions, Ayers said.

The chill then turned to a freeze requiring department heads to submit all hiring requests to the board for approval.

Yavapai County District 3 Supervisor Chip Davis said the county needs to be patient while waiting for the state to set its budget. The budget process this year has been based on assumptions about what will happen, and the scenario created by the county may or may not be correct.

“We best just sit tight until the smoke clears and make our decisions then,” Davis said.

According to Ayers, the budget cuts imposed on all departments forced some to designate positions they will not fill in the next year. However, if a position the department budgeted for comes open in the next year, it can be filled.

The county anticipates lifting the freeze sometime after adoption of its tentative budget, Ayers said, which is scheduled for Monday, July 6.

The county expects May tax revenue numbers this week, according to Ayers.

Numbers from April set the county back 21 percent in county sales tax compared to April 2008, and state-shared sales tax was down 18 percent for the same month.

Over the last two years, the county has seen a 27 percent drop in county sales tax and a 26 percent decrease in state-shared sales tax.

What the state decides to do with its budget will also

impact the county, according to Ayers.

“We still have dueling budgets [at the state level],” Ayers said.

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