Jun 062014

By Tammy Gray

Holbrook officials anticipate an increase in Highway User Revenue Funds (HURF) during the upcoming fiscal year, but the larger amount still does not restore full funding.

Finance Director Randy Sullivan previously told the city council that the city expects to receive approximately $604,000 in HURF monies during the 2014-15 fiscal year. That is up from the $583,635 the city has received so far this fiscal year. The new fiscal year begins in July.

HURF funds are used to complete road repairs and construction. The money is collected by the state, and comes mainly from fuel and vehicle license taxes. The state is responsible for dividing the money among cities, counties and the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT). Some of the funds are also distributed to the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS), but when the state faced a financial crisis, legislators took HURF money from cities and counties and gave it to DPS.

Since that time, cities and counties have been fighting for the return of the funding in order to complete necessary road repairs. A bill passed by the legislature last session opened the door to restoring the funding, but not to the levels seen before the recession. It also allowed the state to change the distribution formula.

As a result of the changes, Holbrook will receive more than it has in the last four years, but not as much as it did in the years prior to that. In fiscal year 2008-09, the city received a total of $701,834 in HURF funding. The following year, fiscal year 2009-10, that total dropped to $652,601, but then rose in fiscal year 2010-11 to $673,121.

In fiscal year 2011-12, the city saw the first major drop and only received $520,467. In fiscal year 2012-13, HURF funding rose by about $25,000, coming in at $545,635.

The HURF funding received by the city reflects not only the reductions made by the state, but also the amount collected in fuel and vehicle license taxes. According to state financial records, the city consistently receives its largest distributions during the busiest months for tourism in May, June, July and August. Over the last six years, Holbrook consistently received its largest payment in July, with an average of $64,000 received in fiscal years 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11. Following that time, however, the city received an average of $53,000 in July.

City Manager Ray Alley noted that the city will still move forward with a large number of street repairs even if it is not receiving as large a share of HURF funding as officials had hoped. The city will use general fund dollars to help pay for street work so that it will continue throughout the upcoming fiscal year. Recent approval by voters will allow the city to add $500,000 to the street and utility budget as part of a budget override.

Alley noted that citizens should expect a lot of street repair activity throughout the summer months, starting with work on Seventh Street near Park Elementary School.