Jul 012014

By Tammy Gray

Navajo County ended the 2013-14 fiscal year with $1.4 million more in revenues than expenditures.

The $1.4 million surplus is largely due to increased county and state shared sales tax revenues. According to County Manager Jimmy Jayne, state shared revenues were up by seven percent for the entire fiscal year. For the month of June, they were up by 6.3 percent. County sales tax revenues were also up by seven percent for the month of June.

Although the excess funds were not necessary to balance the budget, they will be used to help keep the county in the black during the new fiscal year. Jayne previously told the board of supervisors that the funds would sustain the county until property tax payments are received. “We have to weather a 12-month storm,” he said.

Sales tax revenues are expected to continue to increase over the next year. The 2014-15 fiscal year budget anticipates a modest three percent increase in both county and state shared sales tax revenues. That increase will mean an additional $520,000 for the county.

Along with increased sales tax revenues, county officials are expecting an increase in planning and zoning fee revenues as the economy improves modestly. A five percent increase is expected over the course of the year, generating an additional $20,000.

Statewide, the totals for sales tax revenues were not so promising. Overall, sales tax collections were down by eight percent compared to the previous fiscal year according to a report by the Arizona Department of Revenue. The most significant drop, however, was in use tax, which is not shared among the state’s cities and counties. Use tax revenues dropped by 15 percent compared to last year.

Overall, the amount of sales tax collected by the state and distributed to counties was up by 6.9 percent compared to the previous fiscal year. The amount distributed to cities was also up by 6.9 percent, while the amount retained by the state was up by 5.5 percent. Education tax distributions were also up by 6.4 percent.

The largest percentage increase in sales tax collections was in the publishing category, which was up by more than 36 percent, followed by contracting at 14.5 percent and retail at nine percent. Retail sales accounted for most of the funds, however, with a total of $36.5 billion in taxable sales. Hotel and motel revenues saw only a slight change, with a .8 percent increase compared to the previous fiscal year.