"Hos" Hoskins, County Treasurer, Preparing to Sue County Again on Budget Issue

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors can tell an elected county official how much money to spend each year, but aren't supposed to dictate how the money is spent.

Yet that's exactly what the supervisors are trying to do at the County Treasurer's office, says the treasurer, Charles "Hos" Hoskins.

To stop them from "meddling," Hoskins tells New Times he's preparing a lawsuit he expects to file in a couple of weeks.

It will be the second time Hoskins, who has been treasurer since the beginning of 2008, has sued the county. The first lawsuit, still pending, argues that the county supervisors had no right to take away the treasurer's IT department this year.

As the Arizona Republic reported in September, the county supervisors -- acting on an opinion from the county attorney's office -- moved the treasurer's IT department to the county's Office of Enterprise Technology in an effort to centralize the county's computing work.

Hoskins claims this puts him at financial risk if one of the Enterprise Technology workers misuses the county's money -- money the treasurer's office is responsible for overseeing. He says several attorneys he knows -- he wouldn't name them -- suggested that he sue the county. If he wins, he gets his IT department back. If he loses, he believes he'll have more legal standing if some future plaintiff tries to get him and the treasurer's office on the hook for something the Enterprise Technology department did.

"It's like running the kitchen, but you can't talk to the chef," Hoskins says.

In the meantime, the treasurer's office is still reeling from the effects of having the IT department moved, he says.

With a chunk of money for this year's budget transferred to the Enterprise Technology office, Hoskins' budget came up short in July. That ticked off the county supervisors, who asked him to provide a detailed budget and get all of his expenses approved by the county's budget office.

Hos says that amount to "illegal" micromanaging of the budget of an elected official.

In one example of micromanaging, Hoskins explains how the county budget managers denied his office $4,000 that he needed to develop a better system to explain how county money is processed, something he says is necessary to prepare his roughly $3 million budget.

The only way he can stop the supervisors from doing this is by launching another lawsuit, he says.

In a response to a recent New Times blog post, Hoskins also claims the supervisors are demanding that he identify possible cuts of up to 20 percent in his budget, yet are simultaneously failing to provide him with a detailed, line-item budget. Hoskins sent the comment from his personal e-mail account but confirmed his identity to New Times.

The blog post reported that Robin Hoskins, a Superior Court employee who took sides last week in the fight between Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and the local judiciary branch, is Charles Hoskins' daughter. In his response, reprinted below, the treasurer says he first learned of his daughter's involvement in the bias allegation from a news release put out by the county attorney's office.

Charles B. Hoskins says:

Between the time my predecessor left the Maricopa County Treasurer's Office and my appointment to finish out his term the County Board of Supervisors, at the urging of their deputy county manager, transferred the entire Information Technology division from the Treasurer's office to the county's Office of Enterprise Technology. Initially I tried to support the board on this move, but it soon became apparent that I could be at great personal financial risk if one of the 150 employees in OET did something improper that resulted in a financial loss of public monies. There is one very on point court decision that makes it clear that I would be liable even though I have no control over the OET employees. The only way I could protect myself was to file an action against the BOS in court.

When they moved the IT division they also took a sizeable portion of the Treasurer's Office budget for both this year and next. My efforts to determine what my budgets are for these two years have meet with one obstacle after another. But that has not prevented the deputy county manager from insisting that I provide information as to how I might reduce next year's budget by 20 percent if necessary. There is no way I can determine where I could make potential cuts when I have yet to see any budget for next year. (If anyone ask them about this they will tell you it is not true so ask them to show you a complete line-item budget for the Treasurer's Office if they can, then please send me a copy) I thought I was getting close but OET suddenly hired my budget manager away and the deputy county manager has denied my request to hire a replacement because of the hiring freeze. (There is a Catch 22 similarity here I think.)

There are more issues that I have with the BOS and their management team, but like the two mentioned above, they have nothing to do with what is going on between the supervisors and Messieurs Thomas and Arpaio regarding judicial assignments. I was also unaware of my daughter's involvement until a member of my staff gave me a copy of the county attorney's press release a day later. She is very intelligent and impeccably honest and quite capable of taking care of herself. If she says something is so you can take it to the bank. I challenge anyone that has jumped to a conclusion about her, or my, integrity to get off your duffs, move away from your keyboard and ask around. We have both been associated with government for many years and those that know first-hand how we perform will bear me out.

Charles B. Hoskins, Maricopa County Treasurer

Hoskins, a retired jet fighter pilot and former director of the state's revenue department, was appointed to the treasurer's office this year after David Schweikert dropped out to run -- unsuccessfully -- for Congress. Hoskins won a four-year term to the office in November's election.

He claims he has "no agenda," politically speaking. Maybe that's true.

But that doesn't mean his lawsuits and public sparring with the county supervisors won't affect county politics. -- Ray Stern

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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.