Let’s Change the “Use It or Lose It” Policy

Currently, Yavapai County has a ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ policy under which the departments must return any unspent monies instead of being allowed to “roll over” the funding to the next budget year. This creates incentives for bureaucrats to spend any remaining budget on low priority expenditures to avoid cuts in the following year’s budget. For instance, department heads offer generous contracts, procure unnecessary equipment, and travel for conferences at the end of the fiscal year that otherwise would not have been funded.

Examples of this “use it or lose it” policy follow:

  • Steve Irwin, having served at the DOD, found old cartridges stacked to the ceiling for an obsolete printer that a previous department head ordered in an end-of-year spending binge.
  • Harry Oberg, having been at the Federal government level in both the military and civil service, has seen the end-of-year waste with purchases of unnecessary items or services to preserve funding levels (or justify an increase) for the next fiscal period. Department operational requirements change, but too often the budget bureaucrats in charge do not understand that and cut funding automatically.
  • Wiley Cline was in law enforcement and the month of June was their summer Christmas. He had to devise a plan to give departments the choice of turning money back or take a 15% budget cut the following year.

To encourage fiscal accountability and discourage wasteful spending at the end of the budget year, the undersigned candidates for the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors will propose implementing a new Board of Supervisors policy allowing any unused funds to roll over to the next budget year. This new policy should reduce the following year’s budget request and tax levy, and in turn, save the taxpayer money. For those department heads who are fiscally responsible and transparent in their yearly budget requests and spend money wisely for the taxpayer, a merit pay increase could be considered. However, it is our feeling that pursuing cost reductions and savings should be a routine aspect of each county employee’s job.