- Associated Press - Thursday, May 12, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - Taxpayers in metro Phoenix will have to pick up an additional $13 million over the next year to cover the costs of a racial profiling case that has proven to be the thorniest legal entanglement faced by Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Maricopa County, which has already shelled out $41 million over the past eight years in the case, must keep covering those legal costs until Arpaio’s office is released from the supervision of the case judge - a resolution that is years away.

County officials are expected to tentatively approve the additional spending on Monday. A final vote is set for late June.

An official monitoring the agency on behalf of the judge said in a report that Arpaio’s office has been unacceptably slow in enacting changes to ensure officers aren’t making any more of the unconstitutional traffic stops cited in the profiling case.

“To spend this much money and find out we are nowhere close to being compliant is disturbing,” said Supervisor Steve Gallardo, a longtime Arpaio critic who will be voting on the spending. The money could have been used to pay for flood-control improvements, increases for county employees who have gone four years without raises, and other unfunded projects, he said.

A federal judge who ruled nearly three years ago that Arpaio’s officers profiled Latinos had ordered a series of changes at the agency, such as training on making constitutional traffic stops and requiring officers to wear body cameras.

The court monitor has said the agency lags in revamping training for its supervisors and setting up an alert system to help spot problematic behavior by officers.

The judge also is considering whether Arpaio should be held in civil contempt of court for his acknowledged defiance of a previous order to stop his immigration patrols.

The 83-year-old sheriff, who is seeking a seventh term this year, declined to comment about the costs of the racial profiling case.

The $41 million spending so far includes $10 million in attorney fees and $5 million for the monitoring staff. It represents only a part of the county’s heavy legal costs over Arpaio’s 23-year tenure.

The county has had to pay an additional $79 million in legal costs related to Arpaio’s office. That figure includes judgments, settlements and legal fees involving things such as lawsuits over jail deaths and the lawman’s failed investigations of political enemies.

Arpaio, who earns $100,000 a year as sheriff and owns more than $2 million in commercial real estate, has never had to pull money from his own pocket to pay for legal costs directly tied to his work as sheriff.

However, he must pay for defense lawyers helping him during the contempt proceedings. He has reached out to supporters for donations.

Critics have said county officials have a go-along-to-get-along approach with the sheriff’s office and haven’t done enough to rein in the lawman over the years.

Clint Hickman, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, which will vote on the latest spending in the profiling case, declined an interview request.

Hickman said in a statement that county officials have challenged Arpaio to keep costs down and follow court orders. He said the law requires the government to pick up the expenses.

The sheriff is an independently elected official and is accountable to voters every four years, Hickman noted.

“Taxpayers should not only expect more but demand more,” said Paul Penzone, a retired Phoenix police officer who lost a 2012 challenge to Arpaio and is seeking the office again this year.

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Follow Jacques Billeaud at twitter.com/jacquesbilleaud. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/jacques-billeaud.

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