Pima County Communications Costs Continue To Grow

On Tuesday, the Pima County Board of Supervisors will consider approving the budget ceiling, locking in the maximum amount the County can spend in FY 2018 – 2019. Included in the proposal is an increase in the Communications Department budget.

In light of the recent failures of the Department including the highly controversial and embarrassing press release prematurely mourning Sen. John McCain, the increase of funding due mostly to pay increases came as a surprise.

Related article: Elias, Huckelberry Prematurely Mourn McCain’s Passing, Evans Jumps Gun

According to budget materials, the Communications Department should “provide information about County programs and activities to the County’s constituents, the media, and County employees utilizing mass communications including broadcast, print, and digital channels. Provide communications strategies, graphic design, photography, printing and video services to all departments within County government.”

Department goals address:
• Timely and accurate media release performance
• Standardization of website appearance and functionality
• Optimizing internal graphic design and printing services

FY 2018 – 2019
Revenue $310,625
Expenditures $2,258,927
Fund Impact $(1,948,302)
FTEs 20.00
Function Statement: Provide information about County programs and activities to the County’s constituents, the media and County employees utilizing mass communications vehicles, including broadcast, print and digital channels. Provide communications strategies and tools, graphic design, photography and video services and provide high-speed digital black/white & color printing, traditional offset and full service bindery to all departments within County government.

FY 2017 – 2018
Revenue $302,425
Expenditures $2,052,081
Fund Impact $(1,749,656)
FTEs 20.00
Function Statement: Effectively communicate the various programs and services available to the public. Work with the Information Technology Department to develop a new interactive County website. Provide graphic design services and printing services to all County departments. The Print Shop has been transferred to this department in the General Fund. It was previously an Internal Service Fund in Finance & Risk Management.

According to documents, the FY 2017 – 2018 budget for the department grew to $2,052,081, which “was $177,487 above the fiscal year 2016/17 Adopted Budget primarily due to increased costs for media software renewals of $75,000, supplies and printing of $58,125, and $7,300 for the Loop Merchandise Store.”

Revenue in the FY 2018 – 2019 has been “increased by $8,200 as a result of higher anticipated charges for services of $5,500 in the Print Shop and for Loop jersey sales of $2,700,” according to documents. “During the current fiscal year, a new printer was purchased, (along with the first year of annual maintenance) for the Print Shop using funding from Capital Projects. For fiscal year 2018/19, a second printer will be purchased for the Print Shop. This one time cost is included in the department’s budget, along with the ongoing cost for the annual maintenance. The Recommended Budget also contains the ongoing cost for the maintenance of the printer purchased in the current year.”

The revenue referred to is largely Interdepartmental Revenue. This “revenue” is essentially a cost shift from one department to another within Pima County government.

County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry’s budget includes pay increases across the board at a time when few Pima County small business owners are in a position to increase their own income due to rising taxes.

After the budget ceiling is set, monies may be shifted between the various departments until the June 19th, 2018 board meeting when the final budget adoption is approved. The total budget may be lowered at that time, but can not exceed the ceiling set at the Tuesday Board of Supervisor meeting.

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