Sat, Feb

Sales tax for parks reduced

Camp Verde News

Camp Verde’s got some money problems. That much is certain. Faced with sales tax revenue dropping off by as much as 25 percent, the town has had to tighten the purse strings.

That also means the town has had to redirect where it spends its money. For the past several years, Camp Verde has been funneling a portion of its sales tax into certain funds, setting aside one cent of the tax collected to be divided into 60 percent for capital projects and 40 percent for the park fund.

Late last month, the council voted 6-1 to change its priorities. The 60/40 split, once mandatory, has now been restated as a “goal to pursue,” said Town Manager Michael Scannell. Now some of that money will be redirected to pay for more immediate, pressing needs for the town as they arise.

“Quite frankly, the only way that we were able to preserve the integrity of the general fund this year was to radically alter these allocations,” Scannell said.

Councilman Ron Smith cast the lone “no” vote, citing concerns he’s heard from members of the community that it was important to keep money flowing into the park fund.

“They just thought, ‘why is that being messed with?’ ... and kind of the argument was, you know, we were sold a bill of goods that we would increase sales tax one percent so we could forever set aside 40 percent to the park,” Smith said. “The point they were making was, ‘Is this how government works?’ ... You have something and say it’s going to be that way, and then you get down the road and change it.”

Smith suggested that while he understood the tough financial decisions facing the town, the council could put a sunset on the decision to change the tax allocation, possibly reverting back to the 60/40 split in three years.

Scannell said that keeping the general fund healthy required the council to make difficult choices, but that Camp Verde was hardly alone.