The budget hearings continue... With PSPRS sucking $1.5 million out of the general fund it is painful to watch Council/CM/Treasurer try and juggle revenues with spending requirements for services; adding a bit here, taking away there. It is not unlike using baling wire and duct tape to keep an old car running. There is significant use of the reserve fund to help balance the budget and that is not good. The reserve fund is for emergency spending situations that can happen at any time in our old town.
Mayor Smith wrote an angry letter (see below) to all state legislators about the impact PSPRS is having on our community. Just remember the names Griffin, John, Nutt the people who don't represent us; don't vote for them.
Despite the budget woes, the economy continues to perk along. Extensive comments below.
The Commuity Chorus is having their bi-annual paper shredding recycling event in May. This has turned into one of the more valuable volunteer services to help declutter businesses and homes. You don't have to go all Marie Kondo to take this advantage of getting rid of your old stuff. More info below.
On a personal note, our daughter is coming to town, has a house sit in May, but may be looking for a longer term rental in OB in June. Please to let me know if you know of anything.
(Edited from Dr. Robert Carreira, Chief Economist Center for Economic Research weekly press release. www.CochiseEconomy.com City data from Jen Luria/Viz Center, Joe Ward/building inspector, Housing from Bob Klein)
There is a detailed explanation of sales state below and why they are 3-4 months after the current month. There may be another way to calculate it, but I have not been able to figure how.
Zillow.com reports there are about 130 houses for sale in Bisbee. Housing sales are about on par with last year at this time. There were 5units sold (5 @ about $700k) less than last year (7 @ about $900k) and about half the sales of 2016,(12 @ $1 mil) a particularly vigorous sales year. However the average March sold price was about $7k more than 2017 and $55k more than 2016. Houses were on the market for an average of 186 days. And the Feb prices were more than the past two years also. So the pricing seems to be following the national trends of about 5-6% increase. Although it is doesn't seem that there is local critical shortage of housing stock as reported nationally. In the past two years, April, May, June, September and October have been the months with the best house sales.
Building permits this month are somewhat skewed because of one substantial residential permit of $200k. Even without it, it still is a vigorous month with 25 residential permits. There is a ton of remodeling, fixing up, replacing stuff going on. More than half of the permits were for Old Bisbee. The commercial permit side continue to lag the past 4 months indicating not much going dough coming in commercially.
January figures are in for Sales tax revenue. Retail sales dipped again compared to last year; sales have been down in 17 of the last 25 months. Restaurant/bar sales have been down in 4 of the last 6 months. Prior to the Fall of 2017 sales had increased in 10 of the past 12 months. Lodging sales have been down in 5 of the last 6 months, but prior to that growth in 14 of 19 months.
The conservative revenue projections in the draft budget show the treasurer anticipates $400k less than last year for sales tax. ($1,375,600 to $1,713,600) However the first 6 months of the fiscal year collections have been $858,219 and if that pace continues will be pretty much in line with the 2017 fy budget projections.
I cannot figure out the bed tax revenue. I've seen two figures for period ending 12/17; $76,030 (used in a monthly report of revenues compared to budget that the council gets) and $63,970 in the draft budget. These include air b&b revenue which was begun in Jan 2017. Using the $76k figure, revenue is on par to at about the same as last year $147,961. However this Spring has generally seen (anecdotally) more visitation and the end of the FY should see higher revenues. The draft budget is clear as mud about projected bed tax revenues.
(I've asked the Treasurer if there is any way air b&b taxes can be made public but she said those taxes are lumped into payments to the city without a separate code so she cannot sort them out. Getting the state to do so is one critical step in finding out how many air b&b's there are in town. Getting VRBO to pay include city tax is another.)
Queen Mine Tour visitation dropped about 600 people from March last year. I'm not sure when the age requirements were put in place, but that may have something to do with it. First three months visitation is down about 400 peeps. It would be helpful if the QMT would break out gift shop revenues on a monthly basis.
The visitor center (in the building with the Queen Mine Tour) also saw a drop in visitation of about 1000 people which figures. Generally if people arrive early for the mine tour, they wander over to the VC and look over the info. The Visitor Information Center in the Mining Museum saw a bump in visitation of about 300. Other noteworthy stats...social media visits and activity continues to increase. The website discoverbisbee.com saw a short drop in users from all devices; desktops, mobile, and tablets.
(The reason there is two visitor information places has to do with how the State recognizes Destination Marketing Organizations (DMO) as well as the stupid move several years ago by GM Pauken of moving the VC out of the convention center to the out-of-the-way mine tour building. Businesses in OB then became repositories of tourism info which is not why they were in business. Several of us worked for some years to get a visitor center back into downtown OB and that culminated in the Visitor Information Office in the Museum.)
Chiricahua visits are about the same as last year, while Cornonado visits are down about 50% from last year.
................................ BISBEE MENTIONS
VOLUNTEER TO HELP GOAR PARK LUNCHES
Due to vacation and snowbird schedules they are short a couple of people. Please feel free to join them in the kitchen of the Royale Theatre Tuesdays, Wednesday's and Fridays from 9:45 to 12:00, no experience needed, its fun! satisfying and they will train you! 255-5219
............................. GET RID OF IT! PAPER, ELECTRONICS, CABLES.... Shed It-Shred It’ event, Saturday, May 12 from 9:00 am to noon in the Ace Hardware parking lot at 1220 S. Naco Highway.
Shred personal documents on site. Recycle cardboard and small electronics such as PCs, modems, CPUs, hard drives, monitors, speakers, mice and keyboards, power chords and cables, power strips, printers, scanners, laptops, desktop copiers, fax machines, telephones, cell phones, and small TVs. Dispose of expired or unwanted medications, out of date eyeglasses and personal product samples.
There is a suggested donation of $10.00 per box. Funds raised will go to support operations of the Bisbee Community Chorus, an Arizona non-profit corporation and 501 (C) 3 charitable organization.
............................. BISBEE RECYCLING FEATURED IN ADEQ YOUTUBE VID
BISBEE LODGING FEATURED IN ARTICLE
An article about lodging in Bisbee appeared in AZ Central/Arizona Republic. Copper City Inn has gotten four reservations since it appeared 7 days ago.
BISBEE CITY MOST BEYOOTYFULL IN AZ SAYS MSN
BISBEE MAYOR SPANKS LEGISLATORS FOR DOING NOTHING ABOUT PSPRS
BISBEE LOCAL COST COMPARISONS
Take a look at the cost of local vs. the cost of chains. I suspect you, like us, have gotten in the habit of the ease of Amazon or big boxes in Sierra Vista, but we are making a concerted effort to buy in Bisbee when we can get the products. This Local First campaign explains why.
BISBEE CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
Kimber Lanning, executive director of Local First gave two presentations last week;to the public and to a work session of the council. A 23 minute audio of her presentation can be had at Chuck Alton's site:
In her talk Ms. Lanning summarized opinions that fall into four areas that she deemed challenges to our City: Economic Leakage depleting local businesses; Inconsistent coordination between the business community and the City; Lack of collaboration to develop a unified voice or vision; Workforce gaps that impact our community.
She offered suggestions about how these challenges are opportunities that could stimulate economic growth, cooperation, new residents, and a better quality of life in Bisbee.
There was significant interest in following up and there likely will be a May meeting.
Background for Local First presentation
The iBisbee committee commissioned Local First to do a first ever city-wide survey of local business persons and residents an effort to understand what are thoughts, perceptions, and assessments about our city.
The Local First team devised a list of questions designed to elicit comprehensive opinions about Bisbee. They then conducted interviews with 64 citizens. Based on those interviews Ms. Lanning reported the results to the iBisbee committe at a meeting in late 2017.
In our discussion following her report, we decided that sharing the information with the wider community would valuable; hence the presentation.
CoB Business Licenses
Mar 16th – Apr 15th 2018
822 C Pace Ave.
Bisbee, AZ 85603
Owner: Todd Conklin
Little Green House
301AA Tombstone Canyon
Bisbee, AZ 85603
Owner: Sylvia Smith
4641 S. Highway 92
Sierra Vista, AZ 85650
Owner: Lorena Tiburcio & Agustin Tiburcio
Po Boys to Geaux
Bisbee, AZ 85603
Owner: Garrett Gahn
State Articles of Incorporation
Stein Hops Farms L.L.C.
Jason, Marie Steinberg
Quantum Dot L.L.C.
205 13th Terrace
Agent: Patti Fitzsimmons
AN EXPLANATION OF SALES TAX REPORTING
I don't have any bright ideas about getting a better fix on the current sales tax info, when it is 3-4 months late it really doesn't help understand what is going on cept in the rear view mirror. Any ideas?
This is the explanation of the lag in retail/restaurant-bar/lodging tax info. I'll use our Inn as an example. For every booking in March I collected tax. However I reported and paid the the AZ dept. of Revenue the March tax that I collected, in April (by the 21st). The State then tabulates how much money was reported and collected and issues an excel report by county for several categories including the three we are interested in; retail/restaurant-bar/lodging.
The State used to issue a report, publicly available, for taxes broken down by city, however when Ducey came into office he cut 50 ADOR staff which reduced reporting, consequently we do not get the city reports any longer, just the county. (He reduced the number of corporate auditors from 30 to 4 that are supposed to audit 50,000 businesses!) So Robert Carreira has to call each of five cities to get the sales tax report that the ADOR sends to those individual cities. Once he gets that he tabulates it, figures the comparative percentages from the previous year and then issues a press release. All this takes about 3-4 months from the month that I collect the actual tax.
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