Battle between supervisors, county attorney adds up

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PHOENIX -- The battle between Maricopa County supervisors, the sheriff and the county attorney is costing taxpayers $1.1 million in legal fees.

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Feud among county officials is costing taxpayers - The feud between the sheriff, county attorney and Board of Supervisors is costing Maricopa County taxpayers a lot of money.

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County manager David Smith said that amount of money could fund 20 low-level county jobs instead of paying for lawyers.

An analysis by the Office of Management and Budget said the fees include billings to date for six legal actions in which Sheriff Joe Arpaio, County Attorney Andrew Thomas, County Treasurer Charles Hoskins and the Board of Supervisors have battled in court.

A lawsuit or two a year between county officials was typical, Smith said, but "having six is crazy."

One case challenges the Board of Supervisors' power to establish a general litigation department that operates separately from the county attorney.

Another focuses on the board's decision to remove millions of dollars from criminal-justice funds used by Arpaio and Thomas and hand that money over to the state to help balance the budget.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)