County Officials Respond to Arpaio's Criticism on Budget; County Manager Says He's Volunteering $23,000 Pay Cut

Maricopa County officials responded to criticism by Sheriff Joe Arpaio today about budget cuts, saying the sheriff's office is not the only county agency that's hurting.

In a prepared statement, county leaders outline how Arpaio signed off on the budget he's now complaining about. And in direct response to Arpaio's bluster about donating $2,613 of his salary to "charities," (including his own anti-illegal-immigration program), County Manager David Smith fires back that he's giving up nearly 10 times that amount.

"I had not planned to hold a news conference about it," Smith writes, indicating he's not only more generous, but humble, too.

Scroll down for the county's statement:

Maricopa County Board of Supervisors respond to Sheriff's criticism on budget

In response to the Sheriff's latest attack on downsizing government in tough economic times, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors would like to make very clear that the Sheriff himself signed off on his 2010 budget on April 30. The agreement came after weeks of negotiations between county Office of Management and Budget and sheriff staff.

The sheriff's office was given enormous flexibility on the actual implementation of the budget reductions. For example, the sheriff and other elected officials were given lump-sum budgeting authority as well as furloughs, as an alternative to layoffs. The Sheriff has chosen to furlough his employees as a way to manage his budget.

The sheriff's office has not been singled out. The current recession has impacted public and private budgets at every level. The county has been cutting back since FY 2007. The board, in fact, lowered all county budgets and tried to work closely with departments to make smart, yet tough choices.

n The county has lowered the overall budget $122 million from FY 2009 to FY 2010. The county has laid off and eliminated 1400 positions.

n The sheriff's office took little input from county administration as to where they could save dollars without impacting services and public safety. It is now the choices that the sheriff has made that he is complaining about.

n MCSO officials wanted flexibility and now that they have it, they are not being honest about implementing a reduced budget. Tough times call for tough choices and sacrifice, which the board is willing to do. This issue needs no further explanation and we expect the sheriff to live up to the budget he himself agreed to.

From County Manager David Smith:

"I have already decided some time ago to take a $23,000 compensation reduction for this year. I had not planned to hold a news conference about it. I am doing it after Steve Zabilski, executive director of The Society of St. Vincent de Paul suggested it in a "My Turn" column in The Arizona Republic several weeks ago. He called on leaders in the Valley to consider making such sacrifices.

"If MCSO wants the help, we can show him how to live within this budget allocation, delivers all the services and not furlough anyone in the department."

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.