Carefree lauds steady sales-tax revenue

By Curtis Riggs | August 13, 2008

Lowe’s cited for 1.2 percent increase
CAREFREE – When the fiscal year 2008-09 budget was approved last week town councilmen seemed pleased sales-tax revenue held steady in the past fiscal year despite the downturn in the economy.

Carefree Assistant Town Clerk Jim Keen told the council sales-tax revenue was actually up 1.2 percent from the last fiscal year, coming in at $2,360,500. Sales-tax revenue is essential. It makes up nearly half (49.5 percent) of the money the Town has to operate.

“Lowe’s opened and other businesses did well. Construction was down, but the other businesses helped out,” Keen said, adding that budget numbers had not changed since the preliminary budget was approved in July.

Councilman Greg Gardner told the rest of the council the budget was “right on target” when comparing it to the last fiscal year.

“We didn’t skimp on anything and we continue to beautify,” Gardner said about changes planned for downtown, which includes establishing a faux gas lamp district and improving access to and visibility for downtown businesses. “We are spending $900,000 on the streets.”

Citizen activist John Traynor had a different take on the budget numbers presented at the meeting. He said revenue projections for 2008 are down $600,000.

After, the council meeting, Councilman Bob Coady said a 1.2 percent sales-tax growth was an “achievement” considering the state of the economy.

He expressed concern about the changes now slated for the Easy Street business district because the cost has now risen to between $225,000 and $250,000.

“I hope the improvements work. We spent $5.5 million for the Town Center improvements and the merchants weren’t happy with what we did. It certainly didn’t bring in any new revenue,” he said.

At last week’s meeting, Gardner said it was difficult to quantify how downtown businesses have done since the Town Center improvements in 2000.

Vice Mayor Lloyd Meyer mentioned the $4 million the Town now has in reserve accounts.
“That’s quite an accomplishment considering that we paid for the fire station,” he said.
Coady credits the new Lowe’s for the sales-tax revenue increase.