/ Modified aug 7, 2018 5:57 p.m.

Pima County Supervisors Again Delay Vote on Federal Grants for Sheriffs

Party line vote continued grant talk until a September 4th meeting.

Pima County Board of Supervisors hero The Pima County Board of Supervisors at a March 20, 2018 meeting.
Zac Ziegler/AZPM

The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted along party lines to again delay the votes that affect $2.4 million in federal grants to the Sheriff's Department.

The supervisors were set to vote on conditions for Operation Stonegarden funds and acceptance of grants from the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program. Both help fund border-area law enforcement activities.

The matter is now expected to be scheduled for the board's Sept. 4 meeting.

Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier said the decision to continue is "disquieting."

"The board said to me in February, 'Sheriff, if you do these things this grant will be approved,' and now the goal post has moved," he said. "I have dutifully kept my promise, and done the things that I should have done."

In March, supervisors voted to accept Operation Stonegarden grants if five conditions were met. The conditions dealt largely with financial and civil rights oversight.

Among the conditions was the formation of the Pima County Community Law Engagement Partnership Commission.

Democrats on the Board of Supervisors said continuing the vote another month would allow another meeting of the commission to take place, and that meeting could bring more facts about Stonegarden to light.

Board Republicans joined Sheriff Napier in worrying that if the grants are not accepted soon, the grantors may renege.

Napier said that would be of particular concern for the HIDTA grants, which fund an ongoing program.

"I don't know that I can absorb [the employees whom the HIDTA grants pay for], so there would be potentially as many as ten people that would be laid off," he said.

Napier also said he is concerned that the current debate over these grants may result in grantors shrinking how much they are willing to give to Pima County in future years.

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