Budget strategy paying off

Conservative approach keeps city in the black two months into fiscal year

KINGMAN - Two months into the new fiscal year, Kingman appears to be meeting its budget expectations, with actual sales tax revenues exceeding anticipated revenues by about $160,000, Finance Director Coral Loyd said Friday.

"We're 1.31 percent above where we estimated we would be," Loyd said. "Although revenues are slightly less than they were one year ago, we anticipated that happening."

The city collected $2,220,262 in sales taxes through July and August, a very slight decline from the $2,239,708 collected over the same period last year. Despite the slight drop, Loyd said the city still is operating in the black thanks to conservative budgeting for this fiscal year.

By comparison, she said, last year's budget anticipated modest growth in sales tax revenue, and was instead met with sharp declines due to the economic downturn, which forced the city to make cuts as needed.

"Last year was different: We were so far down right away, we immediately made budget adjustments," she said. "We budgeted for a slight increase last year, like 3 percent growth, and there was a 10 percent decline."

This year, she said, the finance department anticipated flat growth, budgeting for a conservative $12,350,000 in revenues. While she declined to make predictions for the rest of the year's revenues until after the first quarter concludes, Loyd said the current take does match her projections thus far, and she did not see any indications that sudden change, for better or for worse, was coming anytime soon.

"You still have concerns about stimulating the local economy and how we're spending the money we do have," she said. "We're not likely to get more, and that's not likely to change."

Even so, by budgeting conservatively, Loyd said, the city has significantly lessened its odds of facing a budget crisis should revenues take an unexpected dip. So long as the City Council chooses its policy goals carefully, she said, Kingman should be able to keep its head above water long enough to see better days.

"We might be in better shape that way because we were more conservative than other Arizona cities," Loyd said. "We're not having concerns about having to reduce the budget - we've already reduced the budget."