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4/2/2013 6:00:00 AM
Move would give Kingman county's highest sales tax
John Salem
John Salem
How the cities stack up
If the City Council approves a sales tax increase following tonight's public hearing, Kingman will have the highest sales tax rate in Mohave County.

Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City have a sales tax rate of 7.85 percent. Kingman's would either be 8.35 or 8.5 percent, depending on which option is chosen.

In Clark County, Nevada, including Laughlin and Las Vegas, the rate is 8.1 percent.

The higher rate in Kingman is a source of concern for the Chamber of Commerce, which believes people will travel outside of the city to purchase big-ticket items.

Today's public hearing starts at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, 310 N. Fourth Street.

Doug McMurdo
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - The sky is not falling when it comes to the city's bleak revenue situation, but it could come crashing down in a few months if steps aren't taken now.

That's the message Mayor John Salem delivered in advance of tonight's public hearing on four possible tax ordinances.

"What's being proposed is a long-term plan to get the city back on its feet, so to speak," said Salem.

The Chamber of Commerce has participated in budget discussions, but the organization does not support raising the sales tax without assurances.

In a letter the Chamber sent to members last week, Executive Director Pam Wilkinson said if Kingman raises its sales tax it will be higher than Lake Havasu City or Bullhead City rates, meaning people will buy big ticket items, such as vehicles, outside of Kingman.

The chamber wants to know how new tax revenue would be distributed and if the tax increases have a sunset clause.

Salem said the city has $1.5 million more in expenditures than what it has taken in each of the past three years, an unsustainable situation.

The City Council has cut more than $10 million in expenses over the past three years.

"We will be OK through the next fiscal cycle, but when we move into (fiscal year 2014-15) we'll be into our reserve."

If that happens, he said, they city runs the risk of losing its bond and credit ratings, which in turn would make the hole it's in that much more difficult to crawl out of.

The ordinances on the table for today's public hearing are as follows: Decrease by 1 percent the restaurant and bar tax; increase the sales tax rate by either one-half cent or .65 cent; and reduce the water base rate by $2 a month.

A 1 percent sales tax the state imposed three years ago expires at the end of May. The one-half-cent or .65 cent increase the city proposes would come out of that 1 percent. If approved, the increase would go into effect July 1.

A half-cent bump in sales tax would generate an estimated $2.25 million a year. A .65-cent increase would generate about $3 million a year.

Decreasing the bar and restaurant tax by 1 percent would hit city coffers with a $600,000 annual reduction and a $2 reduction in monthly water bills would cost the city about $432,000 a year.

Salem said shared revenue with the state continues to diminish. This is funding derived from a host of sources, such as the vehicle licensing tax, impact fees, lottery and Powerball revenue, highway funds and construction sales tax.

The state used to redistribute a percentage of these funds back to the city of origin, but in recent years the Legislature has taken all or almost all of the revenue to help fund state government.

That taking has left Kingman in a bad position, said Salem.

Since almost every facet of government is paid out of the general fund - which receives the bulk of its revenue through sales tax - the city is in trouble.

"Police and fire services cost us $12 million a year," said Salem. "We only collect about $10 million in sales tax. We're already down to our threshold levels (for emergency services)."

While the mayor said the city will try to be as flexible as possible through these trying times, he has drawn a line in the sand.

"We're not going to shut down any fire stations," he said. "We have 10 vacancies on the police department we have not filled ... the departments have already seen drastic cuts and we're not cutting anymore."

Many expenses for both departments, such as fleet vehicles and emergency equipment, are not optional, he said, but are "compliance issues" based on state and federal guidelines for emergency services.

That means other services could be gutted.

The Powerhouse will shut down, he said. Tourism will lose its $190,000 annual subsidy. The swimming pools will be closed and parks' rights of way won't be maintained, he said.

Regarding the Chamber's concerns, Salem doesn't think Kingmanites will shop for big items elsewhere.

"It's comparing apples and oranges," he said. "We're all losing revenue because the state keeps taking from us."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, April 8, 2013
Article comment by: hahahaah giggle

If you sell the golf course, then you use the money and have nothing left. If you keep the Golf course and pay off the loans on it, it will start making money for the city besides being a draw for tourists. You don't buy a loaf of bread for a starving town, you teach them how to grow, mill and bake their own.

Posted: Monday, April 8, 2013
Article comment by: Tj Denton better have some fresh cut grass!

Posted: Saturday, April 6, 2013
Article comment by: Council Must Look at SELLING GOLF COURSE

Thanks TJ for giving us all more reasons to advocate for the sale of the golf course.

Posted: Friday, April 5, 2013
Article comment by: A Serious Thought

@ Trained Observer

I agree with you. I for one am on a fixed income (SS). With Obama proposing cuts to the program and Kingman wanting to raise taxes, it won't be long before we have more parasites (as FLS would call them) in the lines downtown. Seriously people, forget about big ticket items but have the local store stock up on Cup A Noodles. That's all were going to be able to afford pretty soon. And if Erin Cochran gets her way, she'll be very please as she has no compassion for those that don't have anything.

Posted: Friday, April 5, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

"what a dumb bunch of wannabe council people."

Well...once again we see how you speak about people you disagree with. I'm sure you've confirmed that even fewer people would vote for you next time.

Btw... the only "wannabe council people" would be you...they were weren't.

Posted: Friday, April 5, 2013
Article comment by: Howdy Y'all

Speaking of big ticket items...I know of several people who have gone out of town anyway to purchase vehicles from dealers in Phoenix or Las Vegas. A higher tax wasn't the problem they were able to get a much better price for their purchase. This town has as past of catering to these business men/women, but these same business people don't cater to the citizens of the City. Yes, understandably, the big city dealerships can offer their prices at a lower cost due to volume. If local prices were made comparable/worthwhile for a resident to make that purchase, those I know would have made their purchase here. I not even saying the same price, just close enough to say "the trip to Phoenix isn't worth it." "Shop Local" is presented to us as a guilt trip, but who can feel guilty about buying a car at a $2K-$3K difference. I think everyone has cut back on their spending government should (and has) so should the fat cat business owners.

On a side note...any discussion of tax hike on everything but big ticket items i.e. vehicle purchases? It's a compromise at least...

Which brings me to another topic...does anyone remember your United States Civics class in high school? Anyone remember how the two Houses of Congress were formed during the Constitutional Congress? In short, by a compromise! If they, our Founding Fathers, can do this about something SO significant, why can we compromise about this?

Posted: Thursday, April 4, 2013
Article comment by: sandy Shepard

Why don't they try to keep and get new business that employ people instead of running off all the business in town.
what a though get people jobs
wow how many plants have shut down in the last 6 months in Kingman really and our city leaders don't see any wrong with this picture. oh that's right they still have a paycheck coming in. cut their jobs and see where the city advances to only way to go is up

Posted: Thursday, April 4, 2013
Article comment by: Snavely Lass

Of course we'll buy big ticket items elsewhere...just like we have to buy many things elsewhere. Why? Because shopping choices are so severely limited in Kingman. If I have to buy all of my kids' clothes in Vegas, why wouldn't I buy a car or tv there if I needed one, as well? Now...if I had plenty of shopping choices in Kingman, I would be willing to pay the higher sales tax (any savings would be sucked up by gas to drive somewhere else, anyway).

Posted: Thursday, April 4, 2013
Article comment by: janice palmer

its good to see all of you that voted like i did to be able to tell the others just one thing...i told you so...told you they'd screw it up, and they did. what a dumb bunch of wannabe council people. gracious. i hope you straight party voting republicans learn a lesson from this. don't be stiff necked next time. you're getting raped not by the system per se. but by your own buddies...hahaha. i love it. the only thing that bothers me is that the retired seniors and fixed income people get it the worst. wise up before its too late. as i told you during the last council race, I'M YOUR FRIEND AND INTELLIGENT PLANNER.....THEY AREN
T. GET IT?????? JANICE....

Posted: Thursday, April 4, 2013
Article comment by: Work In Reality

If I was in your position I would be afraid to tell certain departments to cut staff. Fear of a lash back by leaders with extensive connections in the community. But it would'nt stop me. Fear is a jailer. Do an across the board percentage cut in all departments and leave the details of managing that process to the managers we have hired and pay.

Posted: Thursday, April 4, 2013
Article comment by: Another Thought

@ Trained Observer

"Why are they trying to get money out of a community that has so many retired/fixed income people and drug users?"

To pay the golf course off so we can get to that "Windfall". As soon as it's paid for they will lower the fees and raise taxes the next year to make up for shortfalls again. DUH!

Posted: Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Article comment by: done deal

I hope everyone realises this "move" is already done. By the time we read about it in the paper its just a matter of telling the "flock" when they have to pay more.

Have we ever read of any "fee,, and now movement that failed to become reality. .

I cant recall any in the 8 years Ive lived here.

Posted: Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Article comment by: Patty hertz

"We will be OK through the next fiscal cycle, but when we move into (fiscal year 2014-15) we'll be into our reserve."
That is what "reserve" is for. Forget about possible future loans, we're broke. We couldn't pay it back if we got another loan. You've loaned us out. We can build up the reserve (savings account) when we can afford too. You may be surprised by the "buy local" activity if you respect the citizens here and do not raise taxes. As a matter of fact, why not forge a path of confidence and stick with lowering the rates on Bar & Restaurant AND sewer.

Posted: Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Article comment by: np ...

it sort of reminds me of the charity appeals by cashiers at Safeway. You spend half an hour in the store carefully picking out items in order to save pennies here and there, doing without some items altogether. Then at checkout, you're asked to donate dollars to some research foundation or whatever. I think it's a mental affliction in Government, which thinks we're just a flock of citizens waiting to be plucked.

Posted: Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Article comment by: Larry Pruitt

@BOBO CLOWN...............LOL....and you think your Good Democrats would do anything different........all politicians are cut from the same cloth...........TAX,SPEND,TAX,SPENTMORE...TAXMORE.....SPENDMUCHMORE.......

Posted: Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Article comment by: Trained Observer

If we had more jobs here (using the rail, interstate and airport services) we would have more people purchasing things, paying property taxes etc. Why are they trying to get money out of a community that has so many retired/fixed income people and drug users? These people are not spending any money here.

Posted: Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Article comment by: Sell It!

Sell the damn golf coarse to pay for the sewer expansion!

Why do we pay the mayor and council?

Posted: Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Article comment by: tj denton

if i hear one more person say "sell the golf course" im going to lose it. im trying to work on my short game here people and i already pay for the driving range! so if they privatize the golf course, ill hold anyone here who advocated it responsible, find out where you live and practice my chip shots and puts in your front yard!! and yes...i will dig holes!!!

Posted: Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Article comment by: vock canyon

I for one already go outside of the comunity to buy big ticket items. I only do the small immediate items that I don't want to drive a distance for. City and county expenses need to be cut.

Posted: Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Article comment by: Ed Hathaway

I lived in Mohave County for 20 yrs. and moved 2 yrs ago for a job in minning. Now live on the east side of Arizona. You people are cring about taxes there, Well the taxes here in Safford, AZ.
are 9.6% on non-food items at walmart and 2.5% on food items, thats right 2.5% and I hate it but I deal with it so quit cring and suck it up and pay the extra .65%

Posted: Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Article comment by: County Resident

If I recall correctly, the city gave a lot of employees, especially those at the top, hefty salary increases in 05. One of the biggest expenses the city carries is personnel expense. Maybe it's time to get rid of some of those at the top end, and pay their replacements something more reasonable and affordable. The city is paying way too much for what they are getting from some of these people. Poor decision making, poor planning, and paying outside attorneys to deal with the results of poor decision making. Get a clue. But quit bleeding us dry.

Posted: Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew


“I suppose the parasites who have taxpayers paying their sales tax for them are loyal citizens in your view.”

Ahh, look, we’re back to the ridiculous parasite meme. How cute.

”Coming from a big government leftist who has never seen a tax increase he did not like, I will take being called a traitort as a compliment.”

And once more a statement with no basis in fact – well, except for the “traitort” (whatever that might be) comment. I wonder how you arrived at the conclusion – since you have never met me nor do you know me – that I am a “big government leftist?” Always fascinating your depth of knowledge.

Posted: Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Article comment by: BOBO CLOWN

As a good DEMOCRAT you jerk REPUBLICANS deserve all the bad (taxs) your Bro's can toss at you.....Ps I LIVE OUT OF TOWN...

Posted: Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Article comment by: Manni Thompson

Mr. Salem Of course I would drive to Havasu or Bullhead to get a big ticket item if it saved me big bucks. I would also have lunch and a movie perhaps while there, why not? Yes, well, sorry that it would hurt the businesses here.. But a "buck is a buck" afterall, Mayor. We also are all cash strapped and will do as needed.

Posted: Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

@ansons nephew

"In essence those who would leave the city to shop and save a little sales tax are traitors to the community."

I suppose the parasites who have taxpayers paying their sales tax for them are loyal citizens in your view.

Coming from a big government leftist who has never seen a tax increase he did not like, I will take being called a traitort as a compliment.


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