Sat, Feb

1% sales tax increase fails by a single vote

Camp Verde News
The Camp Verde Town Council narrowly voted down a 1 percent sales tax increase last week.

With the poor performance of the economy forcing the town to tighten its purse strings, the council considered raising taxes from 2 cents to 3 cents on the dollar.

The increase could have brought in an estimated $750,000 in additional revenue, Senior Town Accountant Lisa Elliott said.

The extra money would be useful, Elliott said. The council is preparing to put together a budget for the upcoming 2010-11 fiscal year. The town has already had to cut back on services, and doesn’t have enough money for things like proper road maintenance. The extra income would also enable the town to pay for projects like the proposed renovation of Rio Verde Plaza for use as a town office complex.

The council voted 4-3 against crafting an ordnance that would increase taxes by the full

1 percent, with Councilwomen Robin Whatley and  Norma Garrison, Councilman Pete Roulette, Mayor Bob Burnside voting no. Councilwomen Jackie Baker and Carol German, and Vice-Mayor Bob Kovacovich voted in favor of the tax proposal.

The proposal wouldn’t have just raised taxes for retail sales, but a variety of areas from telecommunications to utilities.

“People say that it’s only one dollar on 100 dollars, but the state wants another dollar and pretty soon you’re paying 10 dollars on 100,” Kovacovich said. Still, the town is in a desperate situation, and he had to reluctantly support it.

Garrison said that many of her constituents have told her they’d prefer any tax increase be put to a vote. Such a vote would either have to take place by a special election or wait to be placed on the ballot in March 2011. If approved, the tax wouldn’t go into effect for a waiting period of several weeks.

Roulette said he can’t support a 1 percent tax increase but would be willing to discuss a smaller increase. One percent locally would be too much, Roulette said, especially considering that the state is about to put another 1 percent increase to a public vote.

German argued that raising local taxes by a penny would simply bring Camp Verde in line with tax rates currently enforced in other Verde Valley communities.

“I think the majority of the community would support it,” German said, pointing out people already spend the gas money to drive out of town to pay higher tax rates, and people who buy food in Cottonwood are paying an additional tax.

Whatley said she wanted more time to discuss the actual upcoming budget before she could support the increase.

“As a private citizen I don’t have a problem paying another cent in taxes,” Whatley said. “But I do have a problem as a representative of the entire community .... I don’t believe the time is right until we’ve talked about the budget.”

German said voting to raise taxes may not be popular with everyone, but it was something that needed to happen if the town wanted to continue providing services to citizens, which is why the town incorporated.

“We just can’t keep cutting and cutting and cutting,” German said, adding that spending time discussing and planning projects is worthless if there’s no money to get anything done.

The town is required to pass a balanced budget by Wednesday, June 30.

Mark Lineberger can be reached at 567-3341 or e-mail CVEditor@larsonnewspapers.com