Important city ballot questions that impact our business community are coming to you in May 2010: Continuation of the current City of Flagstaff Sales Tax and Continuation of the current Lodging, Restaurant and Lounge (BBB) tax.
When you pay your taxes on a purchase in Flagstaff, a small but important portion of that goes to funding services such as police, fire fighters, parks, recreations services, libraries and our city court. The city portion of your sales tax bill is one percent (out of an 8.446 percent total), accounts for 27 percent of General Fund Revenue, and is the lowest in the State of Arizona. Williams and Page have three percent, while Kingman and Camp Verde have two percent sales tax rates.
This is important information for you to know, because in the May General Election, you will be asked to vote on the renewal of the City of Flagstaff one percent sales tax. Our City is the only one in the State that actually asks our citizens to vote on renewing the sales tax every 10 years – and we do not apply the tax on food purchases or rent.
If renewal of the one percent existing tax is voted down, three of every 10 general fund positions at the City of Flagstaff may have to be eliminated, and many of the services mentioned previously would need to be reduced.
Revenue from the two percent BBB tax is dedicated to five voter-approved programs: Parks & Recreation, Tourism, Economic Development, Arts and Science and Beautification.
These fund programs and services such as: Northern Arizona Center for Emerging Technologies (Incubator), University to Business Connection, Business Attraction and Retention/ Expansion; thirty community Arts and Science organizations and events in partnership with Flagstaff Cultural Partners; for tourism, it has a $501 million economic impact and supports 5,483 jobs annually, over 100,000 people utilize the Visitor Center annually and it supports marketing and sales efforts to generate additional tax revenues; it beautifies Flagstaff by providing partial funding for City gateway signs, median barriers and landscaping, Southside streetscapes and Route 66 billboards removal and landscaping, and for our Parks & Recreation, BBB funds new capital and maintenance of existing parks and recreation projects, maintains FUTS trails and maintains school fields and recreation sites.
More than 70 percent of the BBB tax is paid for by visitors to our community!
If the BBB tax is not renewed, there are no other alternate revenue sources to replace this resource, so most of the services and programs would have to be reduced, discontinued or allocated from the General Fund, which would impact other existing city services and programs.
As you prepare to vote in the upcoming May General Election, it is important to understand the impact of these tax revenues and that these are NOT tax increases, but a continuation of existing taxes and tax rates.
If you would like to know more, please go to the city Website where you can review an online presentation by City Manager Kevin Burke that further explains the ballot questions, and how the tax revenue is used in the community: http://www.flagstaff.az.gov/index. aspx?NID=1896.
Remember, You are the Voters…..You Decide! FBN
Flagstaff Mayor Sara Presler was elected in 2008. Mayor Presler teaches business law and ethics at Northern Arizona University. She writes this column as an individual and not as an official statement from the Flagstaff City Council.