Some bright spots in October sales tax report

Activity and visitors both on increase

VERDE VALLEY - In recent months, the sales tax revenue reports for communities in the Verde Valley from the Arizona Department of Revenue have been mixed with increases in some categories and decreases in others. That holds again for October. But mixed in with categories showing steady or decreased revenue are others showing encouraging increases.

Cottonwood held nearly steady with last October in the year-to-date category for all sales tax line items. But the city did show strong bumps in both retail sales tax and total collections for the month.

Retail tax collections in Cottonwood for October climbed to $590,890 from $537,273 last year. Total collections increased from $835,100 in October 2010 to $884,047 this October.

Lana Tolleson, president and CEO of the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce, said there were a lot of events in October and there seemed to be a lot of activity.

"We had good weather, and we had quite a few visitors," she said.

"Old Town is seeing a surge in customers," Tolleson said. She explained that the Old Town Association has been doing a lot of partnering for regional promotion. She believes that promotion is starting to bring people to town.

"There are a lot of businesses doing more marketing," Tolleson said. "It does make a difference."

She also pointed out that Cottonwood has been getting a lot of media attention.

Clarkdale dropped very slightly in retail sales tax revenue for October from $3,155 in 2010 to $2,976 in 2011. But the town saw good increases in both the total collections for October and in the year-to-date revenue compared with the same month last year.

Kathy Bainbridge, town clerk and finance director for Clarkdale, knew that some construction projects in town would increase sales tax revenue. Fortunately, when analyzing the tax report, she identified other tax categories with increases.

"The construction sales tax revenue is up from last year, but only accounts for about $9,000 of the increase," Bainbridge said. "As I review all the collectable categories, I see other major contributing factors to the increase."

She said the restaurant and bar sales tax is up about $6,800. The services category also was up about $4,700, and real estate, rental and leasing were up about $4,600.

Camp Verde was steady for October in total sales tax revenue and down in year-to-date revenue from last year. But the town's retail sales tax revenue saw a nice bump from $42,087 last October to $52,653 for this October.

Tracie Schimikowski, president and CEO of the Camp Verde Chamber of Commerce, said she hasn't yet heard a lot of comments from local business owners about how the Christmas shopping season is going.

"Last year we were busy," she said.

Schimikowski also said that so far this year, the town has been relatively busy.

"October was really busy for us in the Visitor Center," she said. She explained that by the end of November, the number of visitors at the center had surpassed the total numbers through December for 2010.

Jerome saw a small drop in the total sales tax revenue through October from last year. Retail sales tax increased a little from $19,857 last year to $20,788 for the same month this year.

In the year-to-date category of total sales tax collections, Jerome has shown increases through most of the fiscal year. Jerome Town Manager, Candace Gallagher, said the increase was expected.

"Actually, we anticipated that increase because the sales tax on rental properties did not take effect until October of last year," Gallagher said. "At present, we are very close to what we had anticipated in the budget."

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