Though out his time in office, Supervisor Andy Kunasek has been a strong voice for fiscal responsibility and standing up for what is right. Along with Supervisor Max Wilson, they have been the steady hands guiding Maricopa County through some tumultuous times – always with an eye on protecting the taxpayer. They have been able to cut spending by $72 million for next year, increase efficiencies, and keep taxes low.
We need more leaders in Arizona like Supervisor Kunasek. Check his latest Q and A from the Arizona Republic:
With a shortage of medical examiners and restaurant inspectors, with court caseloads up, why did supervisors decide to hold the line on the tax rate?
Throwing money at problems doesn’t always solve them. But in this year’s budget, we have funded the addition of two medical examiners, a crime-scene specialist and an office assistant. This should reduce the current caseload. We’ll have seven additional restaurant inspectors. We are studying our departments to get to the root of the problems, look at ways to do things better and at a lower cost. It’s what we do well.
Where does the economy need to be before the board allows tax revenue to grow once again?
I am optimistic about the long term. It’s just the short-term uncertainty that worries people and has weakened and delayed the recovery. The property values are coming back. But we have to be patient. We have to work through our oversupply of housing units. The economic fundamentals of Arizona remain strong. We just have to be cautious and watchful on spending. And that’s a good thing, too.
The county’s budget director has said she is concerned about meeting mandated services in future years. Why don’t you share her concern?
Of course I’m concerned. Our policies require that our staff remain vigilant. That is why we have done so well in the past. Our professional staff and administrators are always looking at the long term, looking at potential problems and working to resolve them. That’s why we are willing to make short-term investments in technology, people and processes to save in the long term and to provide better service.
Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox argues you are forcing future supervisors to make the hard choice of raising taxes. Why don’t you accept that argument?
First of all, it should be hard to raise taxes. It isn’t our money. It’s the taxpayers’ and the citizens’ money. At the risk of getting too partisan, I think this split vote along party lines shows the most fundamental difference in how we view the taxpayers we serve. The notion that government should take in more than it needs with an intention to find something to spend it on later is just wrong.
You and Max Wilson are running for re-election. How much did that play a role in your holding the line on taxes?
Didn’t you mean “lowering” taxes? Politics didn’t make much of a difference. Two other supervisors who are not running for re-election both joined us in that vote. It was just a responsible thing to do. And if other jurisdictions hold the line, folks will have money in their pockets to invest or spend.
What does the resistance to raising taxes and revenue say about the current Board of Supervisors?
That we are good fiscal stewards. And responsible elected officials.
How do you read constituents: Do they want less taxes? More services? Or both?
I think people expect both. I’ve always believed in limited government, but better basic services — criminal justice, public safety, roads, etc. — are what we are here to provide at the lowest cost possible. I think we do that at the county.