Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Sat, Sept. 25

Bond election considered to fund fire truck, other city projects

The 2005-06 fiscal year tentative budget shows a surplus of $6,471,073 due largely to the $8.2 million the Arizona Department of Transportation is giving to Winslow under a turnback agreement. However, those funds are restricted to repairs and improvements for Route 66 and can not be used for other projects.

City budget planners do expect a modest surplus in the General Fund budget of $69,230. A surplus of any amount is generally a good thing but it would not be enough to cover the expected $1.75 million the city would like to spend on capital improvement projects. According to the proposed budget, the most needed projects include a ladder truck for the Fire Department, another multi-purpose field, new lights at Vargas Field and renovations to the new Municipal Complex so the Public Library could move there during the fiscal year.

In order to fund those projects, the city would need to secure a General Obligation bond, which registered voters would need to approve in an election. The next possible dates for an election are November 2005 or March 2006. Finance Director Gina Reffner said the city currently has no outstanding G.O. bonds.

The proposed 2005-06 fiscal budget is $20,916,038 but is still a work in progress. The tentative budget does not reflect the June 17 decision to turn jurisdiction of the city court over to Navajo County or recent land sales. City Council is expected to approve the final budget during the first scheduled regular meeting on July 12.

State sales tax

The city sales tax represents about one-third of revenue for Winslow. The 2005-06 proposed budget shows an increase of $175,000 in city sales taxes based on proposed new construction. The estimated $2.3 million would be added to the General Fund.

The actual sales tax revenues for the 2004-05 fiscal year, which ends tomorrow, is expected to be $22,000 higher than next year. The city received approximately $200,000 in state shared sales tax to compensate for a computer error that originally gave Winslow's revenue to another community.

The state sales tax shared revenue accounts for about 15-percent of the city's revenue. Reffner said shared state revenue from sales taxes are expected to decrease in coming years due to slow population growth.

"It's time to do the mid-decade census so they will reallocate the state shared revenue based on population," she said. "Obviously Winslow is growing, but at a much slower rate. If we grow 10-percent and Phoenix grows 2-percent, they have a lot more population so they would get a bigger share of the shared revenue."

Based on the 2004 population, Winslow would lose $370,000 from the state. The estimated 2004 population is 9,635 up 115 from 2000 (9,520). Winslow would lose about $158,000 in Highway User Revenue Funds and $212,000 toward the General Fund.

The biggest departmental change is occurring with Parks and Recreation. The two departments were separated again after several years under the same budget. Scott Lancaster remains the director of both areas but they are now funded separately.

Reffner said the city is now in compliance with the IRS, which said the city could not pay program expenses for both departments from one account and that part-time help would need to be hired as city employees instead of as independent contractors.

Other highlights

Money has been set aside to subsidizes Little League umpires ($10,000), the Old Trails Museum ($25,000), the Winslow Senior Center ($40,000), Chamber of Commerce ($105,000) and Winslow Memorial Hospital ($270,000).

Three city elections are budgeted for $39,500. A land issue election is scheduled for a Sept. 13 all-mail ballot. Recall elections for Mayor Jim Boles and Council member Judy Howell have not been scheduled, but could take place in November. A primary election would be necessary in March 2006 if Boles is not recalled in November. His term expires in May 2006.

One position is transferring from the Finance Department to the Animal Boarding Facility. The Code Enforcement Officer position is being eliminated as well.

The proposed changes include an additional 520 part-time hours at the Public Library, 460 additional hours in Roadside and 988 more part-time hours in the Police Department for the boarding facility. The additional part-time hours increase the General Fund salaries by $18,720.

Part of the turnback agreement with ADOT includes $75,000 to remodel the bathrooms at the East End Ramada and rest area. Designs for Second and Third Streets are expected to begin this fiscal year with construction expected to begin in the next fiscal year. Remodeling for the Hubbell Trading Post Building are expected to begin this year.

The Public Housing Department is 100-percent funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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