COTTONWOOD -- Cottonwood City Council moved forward with a Notice of Intent at its regular meeting Tuesday to implement a .5-percent sales tax hike, raising it to 3.5 percent.
Cottonwood Mayor Time Elinski once again was the swing vote in the decision. Council Members Deb Althouse, Tosca Henry and Ruben Jauregui voted against the increase.
“I tried the best I could to represent all sides in this,” Elinski said. “These are difficult conversations to have.”
A public hearing will be held on Aug. 7 at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers on 826 North Main Street on the proposed increase. A second hearing will be held on Sept. 4.
Public response of the proposed increase has been mixed so far with members of the public bringing signs to city council meetings advocating for and against an increase.
Those opposed to the increase say it’s a regressive tax on the poor and homeless since food and groceries are included in the sales tax. Others argue that Cottonwood is a full-service city serving the entire Verde Valley and needs to increase revenue in order to continue providing services to the community
Deputy City Manager Rudy Rodriguez said during the meeting that since “The Great Recession,” the city has taken a hit in its reserves.
Parks & Recreation Commission Chairman Doug Hulse, who is also a candidate for Cottonwood City Council, spoke during a call to the public about the necessity for funding the city’s infrastructure since the recession.
“People opposed to the sales tax increase are screaming that the city needs to cut spending and while I’m sure there are areas where we could cut spending, I have worked on budget committees in past years and I’ve seen the budget cut pretty much to the bone,” he said. “I don’t believe there are any areas that can be cut enough to make up for the financial damage that the ‘Great Recession’ has done to our city.
City staff will present a tentative budget with the sales tax increase Monday, June 25th. Some proposed cuts include reduction in court employee salaries, reduction of contractual services and removal of the Old Town Association contribution.
Final adoption of the budget is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 7.
The council holds regular meetings every first and third Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. at their Chambers Building, located 826 N. Main St. For agendas and minutes, visit http://cottonwoodaz.gov/129/Agendas-Minutes. A livestream of the meetings is also available on the Verde Valley TV YouTube channel.