Council meeting date moved up to begin tax collections in September

The Douglas City Council aims to implement increases in the city sales and bed taxes a month earlier than they had announced by moving up the third reading of the proposals to Monday, July 29.

The move means the city will collect about $145,000 more than imposing the tax a month later as had been announced. Under the plan, the sales tax levy will increase by 35 percent from 2.38 percent to 3.38 percent and the bed tax would double from 2 percent to 4 percent.

A special meeting has been scheduled for Monday at 5:30 p.m. in the City Hall council chambers at which time the final reading and the adoption of the proposed increases in the sales tax/use and bed tax will take place, city officials said.

The third reading was originally scheduled for Aug. 14 with the tax increase scheduled to go into effect Oct. 1. Should the increase be approved at the July 24 meeting, the new sales and bed taxes are expected to go into effect Sept. 1.

In a guest opinion published on Page. 4 of today’s Douglas Dispatch, the city’s Finance Director Luis Pedroza explains what the taxes will be used for and how they are meant to benefit various city programs.

Regarding the meeting for the third reading, Interim City Manager Jerene Watson told the Dispatch that Douglas learned from the Arizona League of Cities & Towns that the city needs to offer a fourth and final opportunity for public comment on this item in July in order to begin tax collections from the Arizona Department of Revenue (ADOR) by September.

“Douglas is in a unique situation in that we collect more than half of our sales/use tax from non-residents,” she said. “Leveraging our resident tax dollars with even more taxes received from those not living here permanently gives us a good return on our resident investment in our community. To be aware we might forego a month of increased revenues expected to be at least $145,000 in additional monies when we still have time to meet the July deadline and not set up the opportunity for council would be irresponsible on my part. Weighing the decision to course correct by moving the final hearing up by two weeks was strategic, but the decision also had to include a meeting date and time so it allows any who are interested to attend.”

Watson added, “The new budget expenditures were projected based on us having the money by then and our understanding that we would. If we wait until October for the state to start collecting, then we won’t actually receive the funding until December. There is a two-month delay in the state’s collection of revenues to when they pass it back to a city. It is valuable that our citizens have and use these opportunities to comment and make their voice known supporting or opposing the work of the council.”

It is unclear at the moment, what other items will be on the agenda at the July 29 special meeting.

There will be a Call to the Public agenda item at this meeting when citizens will have the opportunity to address the mayor and council provided they have filled out the required card and have it turned in to the city clerk prior to the start of the meeting.

“The city is making every effort to communicate to the public in as many ways as possible about the final hearing on the sales/use tax change,” Watson said.

Questions or comments may be directed to Pedroza at 520-417-7319;

luis.pedroza@douglasaz.gov; or Watson, at 520-417-7303;

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