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Bisbee Economy/All things Bisbee/November #29, 2018


There is a meeting tonight, Tuesday, with Mayor Smith that is open to business owners and managers. Business are invited to discuss City - Business relationships. How to improve communications and discuss items important to business. Bisbee Breakfast Club 5:30.

Some good news from election counts; Kyrsten Sinema is now Arizona's US Senator. In Arizona upsets, Katie Hobbs will likely be the next Secretary of State, Kathy Hoffman will be Superintendent of Public Instruction, Sandra Kennedy will once again be on the Corporation Commission.

Not much to smile about in Cochise County...  voters preferred a straight Republican ballot usually in the 45-60% range.

A 62.69 % turn out; 70.854 registered voters; 44,418 ballots cast

McSally 59.2%  26,148

Sinema 37.9 16,736

Marquez Peterson 58.6%  25,436

Kirkpatrick 41% 17,825

Jannus Poppe, Laura Cardinal, David Thorn all won judicial offices with respectable percentages.

Erin Rhodes and Brian Ott won seats on the school board


126 the anemic reform of PSPRS won with 70%

127 the renewable energy by 2030 lost 79%

305 the rare victory, a no vote against charter school expansion was 63%

306 56% in favor

The vid contract with CGIC had a good hearing last council meeting. It was already a signed contract so it wasn't a do-over. But I think that things such as this contract, that impact businesses (cause of sales pitches) as well as uses of the 'partnership' with the city to sell stuff, should be run by the council and have a public airing before being signed. In my opinion, any business or non-profit that signs on for ads for this vid is wasting dough. No matter whether CGIC gets ads or not, he City gets a free vid.

The final feasibility report for a Science and Exploration Center in Bisbee is on

Something to think about coming next month is the IGA (intergovernmental agreement) with Cochise County regarding Code enforcement and building permitting is up for approval. There have been many complaints from contractors about this agreement because of rigid interpretation and not the best customer service. This is one of those examples of outsourcing that could be rethought. Hiring someone to help building inspector Joe Ward, might be a better use of money rather than the $2500 a month to the county.



BISBEE ECONOMY City data from Jen Luria/Viz Center, Joe Ward/building inspector, Housing from Bob Klein) __________________________________________________________ There are various metrics used to ‘measure’ the economy in Bisbee. I use as many as I can find, but sometimes the data is just not available, so there is only a partial understanding of how Bisbee is doing economically.

Critical monthly sales tax data is missing because last year the State ceased providing monthly tax info for individual cities, for hotel and bar/restaurant categories, although they continue to provide monthly retail sales. (Every business fills out and sends in a monthly report of sales and how much TPT tax they owe along with the check for that amount. The Transaction Privilege Tax [TPT] reporting from the State details how much money is sent to the city as a result of sales in a variety of categories.)

Without that crucial data we really can’t understand the economic impact visitors have (hotels/b&b’s, air b&bs) nor visitors & residents (bars/restaurants) in our city.

What that means in practice is it is very difficult to see or track the economic results of any marketing promotions, event promotions, or spike in visitation.  It is a vexing problem because we cannot understand our economy without that crucial data.

I have sent a couple of letters and will continue to do so to try and get the State to once again send individual city info.

Sales tax information for many businesses is sent to the City treasurer, but she cannot divulge it, even for an FOIA request, because it is proprietary. (Sales tax info could be used by competitors to figure out gross sales, occupancy, and other information that might give a competive advantage.)

There has been some misinformation about Air b&b. Air b&b collects bed taxes from individuals as part of their booking/rental procedure. To my knowledge the company then sends that dough to the State and the State then sends it to the City in a lump sum without individual attribution. The company is treated the same as any other company with proprietary information. As far as I know, the city does not know what properties are being used as an Air b&b. And certainly does not for VRBO a company that does not collect taxes. The City should initiate a procedure to ensure that bed taxes are collected from VRBO as well as attempt to get individual tax information for air b&b owners.

All of this is to say that at any point we cannot say with any precision what the Bisbee economy is doing. So we muddle along....

HOUSE SALES The housing market continues strong with prices of individual homes rising considerably over past years. Comparing October of 2018 with 2017/2016 the last two years median cost has been $139k/$119k/$110k, and number of sold 18/13/10). The number of days that houses were on the market dropped also.

Year to date, 120 houses have sold for $15,440,182.  During the comparable period in 2017 there were 124 house sold for a value of $14,265,313. Although there were 4 less houses sold this year, the revenue has been $1,174,869 greater. (As far as I can determine these only account for houses sold on the MLS. Does not count owner sales. But I have to check this.)

There were 18 houses sold in October 2018 the largest number since summer of 2016. The dollar amount was, $2,528,300 vs. $1,544,500, about $1.1 million more this year over last year Houses were on the market for less time.

Contrasting just September/18 with September/17, there were 4 fewer houses sold this year, but the total dollar amount was only about $110k difference. Days on market dropped to 140 as opposed to 156 last year. And the prices of houses was up $25k over last year ($128k-$103k).

BUILDING PERMITS Building permits also follow house sales with $223k spent in September, about $50k more than Oct 2017 even though there were a few more permits  last year. Commercial activity is next to nothing with one permit for $2k in October. The exception is the $2 million Chiricahua Community Health Centers is spending for a new pharmacy, renovation for a temp clinic, and a total rebuild of their existing clinic in Warren. Given the huge housing sales in October, strong remodels and upgrades will likely continue into the new year. It is a good time to be a contractor and construction worker.

RETAIL SALES There hasn’t been a retail sales report in some time from the Center for Economic Research (CER) affiliated with Cochise College. Because of the change in reporting at the State level it has been increasingly onerous for  the CER  to collect that data from each city in the county. Sales tax for retail sales for September was$72,933. That compares to $65,235 in August and $69,704 in July.

VISITOR CENTER STATS The Mine tour has had about 35,200 customers to date and is on track to be about the same number as last year, 46k. The mine tour and gift shop bring in about $300k and $400k respectively.

The City has entered into an agreement with Freeport to establish a Foundation to operate the mine tour. At some point in the next 2-4 years, operation of the mine tour will be transferred to the new Foundation. There are ongoing conversations with Freeport consultants about how the mine tour could be expanded into something more encompassing.  

The Visitor Information Office (VIO) located in the Mining museum, has steadily increased visitation since opening two years ago. There were about 300 more visitors in Sept. & Oct. 2018 than the same period last year 1100/790.

The Visitor Center located at the Mine Tour also had increases of about 200 additional visitors this year in Sept. And Oct. compared to last year. (Perhaps in the new year there will be a conversation about the VIO becoming the focal point of tourism info with the VC becoming a passive collection site only.)

Visitor Center Supervisor Jen Luria, has slowly built social media sites over the past three years and they have become increasingly important sources for marketing and promotion of Bisbee along with newspapers, television, videos, magazines, travel writers, blogs, and videos. The discoverbisbee facebook page has increased ‘likes, views, engagement, and reach’ almost every month. Instagram followers also have slowly increased as has Twitter followers.


NEW BUSINESS ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION Bisbee Science  Exploration and Research Center Inc. Arizona non-profit 15 Art Ave Bonnie Finklea, statutory agent The Keto Bakery LLC 214 Bisbee Road Al & Michelle Lenowicz ++++++++++++++++ NEW BUSINESS Old Lady Pickers Lowell/Erie St (next to BBC) Nell Kline & Claudia Collins owners PIZZA HOUSE 1422 Hwy 92 Erika and Jeremy Meyer owners BISBEE PLAZA corner of Naco Hwy and Hwy 92 (all stores with the exception of Safeway) Larson Baker LLC

A commercial property developer has bought the strip mall and is doing some remodeling and face lifting. According to reporter Shar Poirer of the  Herald-Review .. "The Tucson-based commercial real estate firm develops, remodels, owns, operates, manages and leases retail, office and industrial properties in Tucson and southern Arizona." If interested in leasing a storefront, Contact Andy Seleznov, or call 520-296-0200, ext. 218.


FIREWISE IN OLD BISBEE If you live in OB, this is a very good organization to join. Al Anderson and Anne Carl who began this have no financial stake in the organization or any offering they might tout. It is a very good service to residents. Firewise seeks to minimize damage from fires by promoting vegetation control and debris control around houses in OB. Go here for more info: and here for membership:

OBF will host a Wildfire Prevention and Mitigation Assessor’s Training. It’ll be free to OBF members, usually $400/person. They’re waiving that fee but the fact that the trainer(s) will come from out of town to spend a day and ½ with us means that if you sign-up, you’ll need to actually follow through.

The agenda:

Classroom training all-day Friday, November 30th and the first part of Saturday morning, December 1st. The remainder of Saturday morning (and final part of the training) will be a field trip to one or two homes and properties to actually assess how to make them firewise.

Space is limited so seating will be assigned on a first-registered, first-served basis. We must receive your “registration” (which must include your name, address and phone number) by November 28. Please email or text or call 520-227-6504 or 520-227-7367 so that we can send you additional information and formally register you for this valuable class.

Official OBF members who need to hire someone to remove or trim trees and brush from their own property are now eligible for a discount.(There are currently 215 folks on our emailing list, and 30 official Old Bisbee Firewise members, i.e., people who’ve returned their membership forms.  We’ve yet to get the grants we discussed, but this discount to OBF members that we just learned about at least moves us in the right direction, providing more incentive to become firewise.)

Mile High Enterprises is offering a 10% discount to OFB members. (432-4212, Cell 234-5541). There are also others out there, so we’d encourage you to shop around for quotes. Keep in mind that anyone in the state of Arizona who bids on work in excess of $1,000 by law must be a licensed contractor.


BISBEE MENTIONS/THEATER "Girls Kill Nazis" by James Kopp is a play that takes place in the Copper Queen Library... In this new work, in the not too distant future, the American Nazi party hasbeen elected to the highest office in the United States. Nazi law is now American law. But the members of the Book Club of Bisbee, Arizona aren't having any of it. From the haven of the Copper Queen Library - and while discussing inspirational works like The Handmaid's Tale, To Kill a Mockingbird, 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and others - four women bond together to fight back against fascism by killing Nazis who pose a threat to their community, and storing their decapitated heads in jars.


From a journal of a producer of Border People in San Francisco. Next work-in-progress performance of BORDER PEOPLE is  Wednesday, November 21st at The Marsh in San Francisco. Tiks here:

Bisbee, Arizona November 10th, 2018 It's very dark in the desert at night. You can't read road signs. The sun has faded them to illegibility. On county highways and rocky dirt roads thick with Ocotillo cactus, the usual "where the fuck is that road" desperation takes on increased urgency. Stepping outside my car to gather my wits, it's cold, and darker. I imagine the hundreds of migrants pausing to sleep for a few hours somewhere in this epic desert, scrunching deeper into hooded sweatshirts and thin jackets to keep out the cold. Hundreds more trudging through the rocks and prickles, navigating by the sounds of my car. Or so deported migrants told me in Nogales, Mexico at the shelter there, girding their courage, and gathering their cans of tuna, for another crossing. I'm back on the road to reunite with some of the people whose stories are featured in my new show BORDER PEOPLE. Among them are misfit survivalist goat ranchers digging out a new shack further back in the foothills of the desolate Huachaca mountains. Deported Veterans in Ciudad Juarez, former American soldiers exiled to Mexico, often for PTSD-induced drug crimes committed after their service. I'll be commemorating Veteran's Day with them. And then onto South Texas, where thousands of current American soldiers are massing in another one of Trump's reality TV show publicity stunts become American policy. I had stopped off in the kitch-tastic "western-themed" Tombstone, AZ, another limp exercise in misplaced nostalgia. Bikers in leather, tourists in freshly-copped Cowboy gear, snapping photos in front of memorials to centuries-old gun fights. What exactly are they nostalgic for? Lawlessness? For whom? 'Cause isn't that lawlessness what Trump is thundering against in all his anti-caravan speeches? When I finally did find the right road, and made it to Bisbee, Arizona, a deserted mining town come hippie art colony, the avocado-saturated BLT was vital succor. Add of course there happened to be a rollicking music festival booming from every 19th century hotel and rooftop, freaks and longhairs and dreads and WWI era worksuits, and lo, it seems tasteful face-paint is making a comeback among adults? The harmonic stoner grime metal band exploding in my ear was apt accompaniment to the sprouted rye bread disintegrating in my hands under the deluge of avocado and green goddess dressing. Add in the fact that this Southeast corner of Arizona flipped back to blue last week, and that Arizona might send its first Democrat to the Senate in decades, and it felt like a good ole blue wave hoedown in the unlikeliest and hippiest of locations, this rural town miles from the border with Mexico.



An interesting website with lots of info about companies and the dollar amount of contracts they have won in Sierra Vista. For instance there are or have been 263 military contractors in SV from 2000-2017. They have won a total of more than $1.3 billion dollars in contracts. Before 2013 total dollars for contracts awarded have been $9 million to $47 million. Beginning in 2013 the awards have been steadily increasing;  2013/$134 m; 2014/$154-2015/$211$2016/$196. In 2017, a total of $246,771,381 has been contracted.



  • Claustrophobic people are more productive thinking out of the box.

  • Just burned 2,000 calories. That's the last time I leave brownies in the oven while I nap.

  • eBay is so useless. I tried to look up lighters and all they had was 13,749 matches.

  • I saw an ad for burial plots, and thought to myself this is the last thing I need.

  • I had a neck brace fitted years ago and I've never looked back since.

  • What's the difference of deer nuts and beer nuts? Beer nuts are a $1.75, but deer nut are under a buck.

  • I got a new pair of gloves today, but they're both 'lefts' which, on the one hand, is great, but on the other, it's just not right.

  • A teacher asks a student, "Are you ignorant or just apathetic?" The kid answers, "I don't know and I don't care."

  • What's the difference between a poorly dressed man on a bicycle and a nicely dressed man on a tricycle? A tire.


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