The Maricopa County supervisors voted last week to again ask the Arizona Legislature to halt its practice of levying a mandated contribution on counties to help balance the state budget.  

The state’s fiscal 2012 budget takes $38.6 million from Maricopa, Mohave, Pima, Pinal and Yavapi counties.

Maricopa, the largest county in Arizona, with 3.8 million of the state’s 6.5 million residents, will pay $26.8 million into the contribution fund in fiscal 2012.

The supervisors said the forced levy is unfair because it hinders the county’s ability to balance its budget.

Maricopa and Pima counties have been paying into the fund for five years. The other three were added to the list this year.

The supervisors will also seek repeal of a new state law that requires counties to hold in their jails all criminals serving a year or less, or else pay Arizona to hold them in state prison.

The law was enacted by the 2011 Legislature and would go into effect July 1, 2012.

Maricopa County officials said the new law is a costly burden because local facilities would exceed their capacity of 8,630 inmates soon after the law becomes effective.

However, controversial Sheriff Joe Arapio said the county lockups could hold up to 10,000 prisoners by using tents to house the overflow. The jails currently hold 7,900 prisoners a day.

The 2012 legislative session begins Jan. 9.

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