Election 2016 Q&A No. 2: Diane Joens, Candidate, Yavapai County Supervisor District 3
Question 1: With every development project that is proposed in the Verde Valley, the question invariably comes up: "Where are we going to get the water?" Is this a no-growth scare tactic, or is groundwater sustainability a real problem for the Verde Valley?
Joens: Water in the West, whether surface water or groundwater, is a precious resource that must be wisely conserved. Private property rights and an increasing overall population mean that there will be growth in the Verde Valley, but private property is less than 20 percent of Verde Valley lands -- so growth will be restricted.
We must preserve, conserve and manage our water supply throughout Yavapai County. Reclaimed water is an important future supply -- the only water resource that increases with population. Satellite water reclamation facilities where the product is reused in the area in which it is generated are necessary.
The aggressive conservation measures taken by the City of Cottonwood help protect aquifers and the Verde River. These conservation principles may be used countywide. I have been involved with water groups and studies for the past 18 years. Collaboration in managing water will protect groundwater supplies and keep the rivers and streams flowing.
Question 2: In the past year, there has been friction and conflict between the county supervisors and the Yavapai County Assessor. What is the healthy balancing act between budget oversight and allowing elected officials such as the assessor, treasurer, sheriff, etc., to carry out the statutory provisions of their respective offices?
Joens: The board of supervisors is going to keep a watchful eye on all spending, and question expenses they don't think are necessary. It's their job.
The recorder, assessor, school superintendent, treasurer and county attorney are elected directly by the people. To do their jobs, they follow state statutes and generally have their own written policies for anything not covered under the statutes. Each elected official answers to his or her own constituents and will be held accountable on election day.
The conflicts I have observed occur when travel funds are requested by various elected officials during lean times. An ongoing disagreement between the agricultural and ranching communities and the assessor created division between the assessor and the board. Good communication and proper interpretation of statutes will resolve disagreements and prevent lawsuits.
Question 3: Is there "fat" or duplication of service in the Yavapai County government structure? What areas of Yavapai County government need to be streamlined for efficiency of service and how do you propose that be accomplished?
Joens: At a recent board of supervisors' meeting that I attended, the board reviewed information about county vehicles. They examined the use of each fleet vehicle. The goal was to reduce the fleet and cut costs.
Sheriff Mascher's jail program to engage outside services for people suffering from mental illness is a good starting place to cut taxes. They do not belong in jail, but often -- especially if they are homeless -- there is nowhere else for them to go. The program seeks release to services outside the jail which greatly reduces costs.
Yavapai County lowered the tax rate in 2015 and is on track to again reduce it in 2016.
As your county supervisor, the budget will be a major part of my job and "cutting fat" and keeping taxes low are a necessity that allows the economy to thrive and keeps citizens' money in their pockets where it belongs.Age: 64
Years in Arizona/Verde Valley: 43 (30 Verde Valley)
Occupation: Mayor, City of Cottonwood
Elective and Advisory Experience: Worked for the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors, as aide to District 3 Supervisor A.G. "Chip" Davis. Thirteen years of service on the Cottonwood City Council, including nine years as Mayor. Ten years of service on the Yavapai County Water Advisory Committee (including one year as co-chair). Chair of city's Alternate Firemen's Pension and Benefit Trust and Chair of Public Safety Personnel Board.