SIERRA VISTA — The Sierra Vista City Council had little to discuss about the tentative 2018-19 budget during its most recent work session on Tuesday.
The final budget of close to $70 million is scheduled for approval during the next regular council meeting on Thursday.
The budget is about $12 million lower than last year’s budget, primarily due to a series of bond refinancing, which actually reduces the city’s debt.
Assistant City Manager Victoria Yarbrough said that while this appears to be a significant decrease to the budget, the general fund is about $1 million higher than last year and Highway User Revenue Funds (HURF) are also up.
HURF is state funding that comes from a gasoline tax, and is allotted only for street maintenance and construction.
“We saw a pretty significant increase in local sales tax revenue, which tells us the local economy is starting to come back,” she said. “We have some more capital projects this year than we have had in past years, as well.”
To create the budget each year, the city council looks at what revenue the city will bring in through property and sales taxes, user fees for public services, state shared revenues and grants or donations. From there, it is a matter of identifying priority needs, where cuts can be made and how to best achieve the city’s strategic plan.
Here’s what you need to know about the proposed budget for 2019:
The city will not be further increasing sales or property taxes this year.
The last time a modest increase was implemented was in 2015, when the sales tax was raised by 0.2 percent.
The sales tax makes up about 23 percent of the budget's revenue, with $4,053,541 slated to go to construction and operations of capital projects and improvements.
Property taxes make up less than 1 percent of the revenue, and have not increased since 2013. The rate is the lowest in Cochise County, at an annual cost of $11.36 for property valued at $100,000.
Per state guidelines that set the schedule for city budgets, the property tax levy will be approved on Aug. 9.
The amount allocated to capital projects has increased by $3,865,999 since last year. The city expects to spend over $10 million on capital projects.
Some of this year’s projects include new fleet vehicles, street improvements, the Domingo Paiz Lighting Project and West End beautification.
The city expects to generate over $8 million in grants and donations this year, which includes nonmonetary donations. Oftentimes, this grant money is used for public safety and street maintenance, or other projects.
STATE SHARED REVENUE
State shared revenue, which is allocated by the state based on a city’s population, is anticipated to increase this year by almost 3 percent.
The General Fund is the largest and most flexible pool of money the city will draw upon for spending. This year, the fund is almost $40 million. About 50 percent of this funding will be allocated to public safety (police and fire).
The city uses debt to help procure needed services and resources for the community. This year, debt is down over $15 million from last year.
The proposed budget is available through the city of Sierra Vista’s website. It’s scheduled to be approved by the council during Thursday’s meeting.