Budget Realities

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Budget Talks Continue
Flagstaff faces a minimum $1.5 million budget shortfall and upwards of $12,000,000 by 2020. This despite an approximate $60 million general fund and nearly a quarter billion dollar overall budget.

In short, we need to cut expenditures, perhaps merge a department or two and find new efficiencies at City Hall. But our greatest goal should be creating an environment that attracts investment and jobs so that we can grow our economy.

Increase Revenues
Several of my colleagues keep saying we must increase revenues. This is code for raising taxes. I believe in increased revenues as well. The difference, I know we can do this without raising taxes through private sector expansion if we create an environment and attitude conducive towards investment in our community.

They have suggested raising property taxes by 8%. The math does not add up. Even with this increase, the budget comes up short by about $1.1 million. And this is being overly optimistic. How can you continually argue for tax increases and other policies that add to the cost of doing business yet claim you want to work on Flagstaff’s cost of living challenges?

Our actual shortfall, if you want to address certain critical city issues, such as losing nearly 30% of our police force per year and other funding challenges, is more like $2,500,000. It grows to a $4,800,000 shortfall next year and nearly $12,000,000 by 2020.

Look at these numbers. What economic planet are some living on? Let’s get real with the budget and stop playing games!

Grow Our Economy
With a budget shortfall potentially in the millions, we must recognize that we’re not going to dig our way out of this by raising taxes. We must grow our way out of this through economic expansion from the private sector.

According to staff, for every $160,000,000 in construction there is about $1,000,000 in revenue to the city coffers. Yet some in our community have opposed projects well over $50,000,000 in the past year alone. How can some on council continue to oppose new projects yet argue they want increased revenue, jobs and housing? In the last year alone they’ve opposed projects that would have brought nearly a half million in tax revenues to our city, hundreds of jobs and much needed housing. Yet they claim they want jobs, housing and tax dollars. This makes no sense whatsoever.

And with new construction comes not only one time jobs and revenue but ongoing opportunities. New projects bring new jobs and new economic activity. For every $100,000,000 in taxable sales, there is $1,000,000 in ongoing tax revenue. Why do some continue to protest against new projects that will bring long term gain to our community?

The inconsistencies by those arguing for a lower cost of living, more jobs and increased revenue to the city simply do not add up. Time to call them out!

2 thoughts on “Budget Realities

  1. Jeff, this is a great piece for the Daily Sun. The word of what’s really happing at City Hall needs to be out in the community. You have such good ideas – more power to you.

  2. I hope you succeed in changing the attitude of the others in the council that would rather tax the residents, Jeff, but you have a long and hard road ahead. Flagstaff city council looks more and more like a miniature federal government–tax and give away freebies.

    Lorri Hull has a good idea, but with a liberal editor like Randy Wilson you will have the same problem getting that message published in the Daily Sun as you have with the others in the city council.

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