Pinal to again ask Ducey to reallocate ‘fair’ COVID funding

County Attorney Kent Volkmer (left) will be sending more correspondence to Gov. Doug Ducey seeking 'fair' distribution of CARES Act funds.

Pinal County will come knocking on Gov. Doug Ducey’s door again.

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to bring its COVID-19 data back to the Governor’s Office to request its “fair share” of CARES Act funding.

After the U.S. Treasury gave Arizona $1.8 billion to help local governments with the cost of mitigating the impact of the new coronavirus, Ducey set aside $27 million for Pinal County. Cities and counties with populations over 500,000 received funding directly from the federal government

County Attorney Kent Volkmer said his office’s calculations indicated Pinal should have received $40 million to $80 million.

Pete Rios (D-District 1), vice chairman of the board, said the county can already document expenses up to $32 million for COVID-19 issues.

The state’s distribution of $27 million came only after Pinal County threatened to sue for the funding this summer. At the time, supervisors noted it was still not nearly what was due, based on the U.S. Treasury’s own guidance.

Supervisor Todd House (R-District 5) said he has no problem asking Ducey to check his math. “We should ask for what we should have coming,” he said.

“We owe it to our constituents to go and seek what has been allocated to our communities in these times,” Supervisor Mike Goodman (R-District 2) said.

Rios said he would even use stronger language in a proposed letter by asking Ducey again to “find it in your heart, Mr. Governor, to be fair.”

Volkmer said he brought the inspector general into the conversation and discovered counties in other states were experiencing the same problem. Volkmer said he was told it was “too tough” for the federal government to micromanage states.

“We can no longer rely on the federal government to ask the governor to reallocate,” he said.

Supervisor Stephen Miller (R-District 3) expressed his frustration that Pinal County, with an estimated population of more than 450,000, is “right on the verge” of becoming one of the counties that could have received its funding directly.

The approved correspondence to Ducey is just step one, according to Volkmer. If the governor’s response is not favorable, the county attorney will likely return to the Board of Supervisors asking for approval to engage in litigation.