Long Beach, CA. – The National Association of Counties (NACo) held their Annual Conference this month in Long Beach, California. During the conference, NACo members adopted a new American County Platform, passed resolutions, and announced their 2016/2017 Leadership and Steering Committee Appointments. Supervisor Buster Johnson was named as one of the Vice-Chairs of NACO’s Information Technology Standing Committee, and also had two resolutions adopted as part of NACo’s national American County Platform along with one resolution on Uranium Mining being accepted. According to NACo, their County Platform is their permanent policy documents whereas resolutions must be written and adopted every year. NACo’s IT Standing Committee, originally called NACo’s Cyber Security Task Force, was launched in 2012 as a public/private partnership to protect county government networks and residents from online computer crime. “With today’s advancing technology, it is important that county officials understand the importance of cyber security,” Supervisor Johnson stated. “Counties are a crucial resource when it comes to public information and information sharing which makes it so important for counties to ensure the taxpayer’s information is secure and safe,” Johnson continued. Supervisor Johnson is also a member of NACo’s Public Lands Steering Committee and sponsored two resolutions dealing with Public Lands. The first resolution he sponsored was in support of the Historic Routes Preservation Act, which is a bipartisan bill that would provide an administrative means for the federal government to confirm rights-of-way on public lands administered by the Departments of Interior and Agriculture. NACo’s National County Platform has always taken a stance on supporting the maintenance and enhancement of public access to public lands. Instead of adopting the resolution, NACo included the language for the resolution in their overall County Platform. “This is a major accomplishment,” Johnson stated. “Not all resolutions end up apart of the overall County platform. By adding into the platform, it shows that the overall voice of counties throughout the nation support preserving our historical right of ways,” Johnson continued. Another resolutions sponsored by Supervisor Johnson, which passed unanimously during the Conference, was in support of uranium activities. In 2012, the Secretary of Interior, withdrew one million acres of the nation’s highest grade uranium ores from mineral entry in Northern Arizona. According to a report by the American Clean Energy Resource Trust, this was a $29 billion hit to local economies in Mohave County and in Southern Utah. “This ban took away much needed jobs from our area. Uranium mining would have brought in nearly 1,078 new jobs to the Arizona strip area with a $40 million annual payroll,” Johnson explained. Included in the NACo platform was also language requiring full coordination with locally affected interests when it came to national monument designations and full funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program. “Without full funding for PILT, Arizona counties will be forced to shift federal responsibilities to local tax payers or drastically cut essential services such as education, law enforcement, and road maintenance,” Johnson stated. During FY15, Mohave County received roughly … Continue Reading →
Washington, D.C. – Supervisor Buster Johnson was among nearly 30 elected officials from around the country who were asked by the National Association of Counties (NACo) to participate in their Washington D.C. Leadership Fly-In. As President of the Arizona Association of Counties (AACo), Supervisor Johnson represented all fifteen counties in Arizona when he met with congressional leaders and officials from the U.S. Department of Interior and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to highlight the importance of the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program and what it means for Arizona counties. “Federal lands in Arizona make up roughly 42.1% of the state,” Supervisor Johnson stated. “Without PILT funding, Arizona counties would be forced to shift federal responsibilities to local tax payers or drastically cut essential services such as education, law enforcement, and road maintenance,” Johnson continued. During the Fly-In, Supervisor Johnson and Supervisor Liz Archuleta from Coconino County met with some of Arizona’s Congressional delegation along with Speaker of the House John Boehner and Congressional leaders from Arkansas and Mississippi to give testimony and real life examples of why PILT is so important for Arizona. “Several counties, such as Greenlee County where PILT represents one-third of their general fund, require these funds to balance their budget. Without it they would essentially go bankrupt,” Johnson stated. Federal regulations require counties to provide services in the form of road maintenance, law enforcement and search and rescue on federal lands. “Because counties are not allowed to collect property taxes on these lands nor allowed to let private economic development occur, the PILT payments help counties offset those loses,” Johnson explained. During fiscal year 2014, which is set to end September 30, Arizona counties received over $34 million in PILT revenue. Supervisor Johnson encouraged Congressional leaders during the fly-in to include a reauthorization for PILT in the 2015 Appropriation Bill, while at the same time expressed the need that a permanent funding source for PILT must be found. “Counties shouldn’t have to plead with Washington every year to ensure these funds are continued,” Johnson said. According to Johnson, Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon has proposed a plan to NACo to permanently fund PILT, but no legislation has been officially introduced.
Lake Havasu City, AZ –Supervisor Buster Johnson would like to share with the public the latest figures compiled by Mohave County’s Human Resource Department in regards to the county’s new prescription discount drug program. The National Association of Counties (NACo) Prescription Discount Drug Program was first made available for use by all Mohave County residents just last month. “Since that time participants of the program have saved on average 21.4% on their prescription drugs,” Supervisor Johnson stated. According to the figures, a total of 10 county residents utilized the program during the month of January saving them over $300 on their prescriptions with an average savings of $18.39 per prescription. “This program is a great benefit for residents, and I hope to see more take advantage of it in the future,” Johnson stated. Of the ten participants, a total of 18 prescriptions were submitted through the card with 15 of them seeing a larger discount with NACo’s discount program than with the discount programs offered through pharmacies such as Walgreens. As an example Johnson explained, “A resident without the NACo card would have paid on average $85.92 for a specific prescription. With the NACo card, on average they only ended up paying $67.52,” Johnson explained. The Prescription Discount Drug Program is put on by NACo at no cost to the counties or participants of the program. It can be used by all county residents regardless of age, income or existing health coverage. There is no enrollment form, no membership fee and no restrictions or limits on frequency of use. The card is accepted at most major retail pharmacies, including CVS. For those interested in a free card, one can be obtained at County Supervisor Buster Johnson’s office located at 2001 College Drive or online at: http://www.nacorx.org/ ###