Arizona Association of Counties Asks Feds for Funding of PILT

Phoenix, AZ – The Arizona Association of Counties (AACo) Board of Directors today adopted a resolution encouraging the federal government to honor its financial commitment to federal public land jurisdictions by fully funding the Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program. Congress recently adopted the Fiscal Year 2014 federal Omnibus Appropriations Bill and PILT funding was not included. For more than 30 years, the PILT program has compensated counties for the loss of tax revenue associated with certain federal lands. Federal lands are no longer subject to local property tax but are frequently serviced by county governments in the form of roads, emergency management, law enforcement, search and rescue, etc. It was expected that the FY 2014 appropriation would have contained nearly $500 million in federal PILT payments to the nation’s effected counties. This amount would have honored commitments in the current federal fiscal year. AACo staff this week spent time working with the National Association of Counties (NACo) in encouraging members of Congress to include full funding for PILT in the Farm Bill; the most viable remaining legislative vehicle to enact the appropriation. Key congressional leaders continued to negotiate the final components of the legislation and it is anticipated that the Farm Bill will soon be taken up by the full Congress in the coming weeks. To view a copy of AACo’s Resolution on PILT Payments, please click here: http://www.azcounties.org/DocumentCenter/View/488 ###

Millions of Tax Payer Dollars Still Flowing to Colorado City for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance & Medicaid

Lake Havasu City, AZ – Supervisor Buster Johnson has received an updated report from the Department of Economic Security (DES) on the number of recipients receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Payments (SNAP) and Medicaid paid out by tax payer dollars in the Colorado City area. Supervisor Johnson, who has fought for the rights of women and children in Colorado City since taking office in 1997, first notified the public of his concerns regarding this issue back in September. “This new report continues to show that over 90% of the population of Colorado City is receiving supplemental nutrition and medical assistance,” Johnson stated. “Over $400,000 a month in SNAP benefits alone is being paid out for a town with a population of only a little under five thousand,” Johnson continued. The DES figures showed that over $12 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance was paid out from July of 2011 to December of 2013. “For a small town, these numbers continue to be outrageous. While recipients around the state saw their SNAP benefits cut by 5% in November, those in Colorado City don’t seem to be feeling the same hardship,” Johnson said. According to the latest figures, in December of 2013 approximately $428,099 was paid out for SNAP benefits on 529 cases resulting in a total household SNAP benefit of a little over $800 a month. “The average benefit for a household in the state of Arizona is roughly $288. The households in Colorado City are receiving over two times that amount,” Johnson said. During the past 17 years in public office, Supervisor Johnson has continued to see the FLDS “bleed the beast,” a term used by the FLDS prophet to justify the taking of tax payer dollars. “The women and children in Colorado City are not the ones receiving the actual benefits. They have been forced on a strict diet of water and beans by order of the FLDS prophet, Warren Jeffs,” Johnson explained. The figures released to Johnson’s office also show that for that same time period a total of 141,363 medical related appointments were made and paid for with tax payer dollars. While the report does not specify exactly how much money was paid out for medical assistance in the Colorado City area, the number can be estimated by going off the reported average cost of $199 per doctor visit in the United States. “By going off of the $199 per visit number, the amount paid for with tax payer dollars for 2013 alone would have amounted to a total cost of over $11 million,” Johnson ended. ###

New TLC Series to Document Former FLDS Member Flora Jessop

Lake Havasu City, AZ – Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson would like to inform the public of a new series premiering on TLC tomorrow, January 7th, called Escaping the Prophet.  The six part series documents the efforts of former FLDS member Flora Jessop as she helps families flee the polygamist community of Colorado City.  Supervisor Johnson has worked with Flora endlessly for nearly seventeen years to try and help abused women and children escape as well as try and shed a light publicly on the dangerous polygamist cult.  In Escaping the Prophet, Flora, along with partner Brandon, who is a former member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) and one of Warren Jeffs’ nephews, offers aid and attempts to extract a number of families from the FLDS community. Escaping the Prophet is one of two new series TLC will be showing in the upcoming months that document the FLDS community.  “By showing these two series, viewers will be able to get an insight into just how dangerous life in this community is.  Other shows, such as Sister Wives and The Polygamists, in the past have painted a false picture of what life in a polygamous community is like.  In Colorado City, these women are told what they can and cannot do.  Unlike what these other shows portray, these women have no freedom and are forced to be subservient to men.  With this new series, folks will be able to see exactly what women and children go through on a daily basis in Colorado City,” Johnson stated.   The other series put on by TLC is called Breaking the Faith, which follows members as they leave the faith. For further information on the new series please visit: http://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/escaping-the-prophet ###