By Linda Kor
In a budget work session following the May 9 Holbrook City Council meeting, City Manager Randy Sullivan presented an updated balanced budget that reflected revenues up through April. He noted that lodgers tax revenues had increased, changing the projections from $110,000 to $120,000 for the upcoming budget year. A slight increase in city sales tax collection was also reported.
The lodgers tax is to be divided, with $40,000 to the Navajo County Fair Board, $40,000 to the Navajo County Historical Society, $25,420 to the Chamber of Commerce and $10,000 for community events.
“The chamber didn’t present at our last meeting and I felt their numbers were a bit high, but after talking to Yvonne (Larson, chamber president) they are still asking for $31,000. They were asking for $40,000 and they’re doing half the work, now so in my mind even $25,000 is too high,” said Sullivan. “But if the numbers keep on bouncing back, then she would probably be that first one to be funded up to that $31,000.”
After a massive sweep by the state of Highway User Revenue Funds to fund the Department of Public Safety, the state provided what was supposed to be a one-time reversal of that sweep of between $30,000 and $40,000 last year. The new state budget has included that amount again this year, providing some unanticipated funding for more street improvements. Sullivan noted that next year that amount is expected to double.
The city manager explained to the council that each month he organizes spreadsheets from the Department of Revenue in a time consuming and cumbersome process using Microsoft Excel. He discovered that the City of Phoenix hired a programmer for $200,000 to build a system that allows them to plug in their spreadsheets, and it provides information on who hasn’t paid taxes and other information regarding sales and lodgers tax that would normally take many hours to produce each month.
Sullivan contacted the Phoenix officials and has arranged for Holbrook to enter into an agreement with them to share their program. “We met with the City of Phoenix and it’s $1,500 to buy in and only $250 a year. It’ll be on the next agenda, because that’s a lifesaver and will help for years to come,” said Sullivan.
The next council meeting is scheduled at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 23.