Pandemic lifts Safford revenues by nearly a quarter million dollars

Safford Finance Officer Alma Valles, right, updates the City Council on sales tax revenue during the first two months of the 2020-21 fiscal year. - Contributed Photo

SAFFORD — If there is one good thing to come from the coronavirus pandemic, it’s that people are shopping locally.

That’s the word from the Safford Finance Department. Finance Officer Alma Valles said sales tax revenues are up significantly during the first two months of the fiscal year.

“Looking at year-over-year — the previous year during the same time frame — we have a positive variance of $222,000. So we almost received double in the city sales tax than the previous year,” Valles said.

In addition, state shared sales tax from the same time frame is up about $13,000 from the previous year as well.

The city is also receiving sales tax revenue from online sales, and it has increased during the pandemic; however, Valles said the majority of sales tax revenue is coming from local retail sales.

 “Especially as we’re entering the holidays . . . we really need to hit home, as well: stay here, shop here and watch your money being spent within your own community,” Mayor Jason Kouts said.

City Manager John Cassella said city staff is working on new reports that will break out the sales tax revenue by sales sector, which should assist the city and Graham County Chamber of Commerce in business promotion and economic development.

“One of our other key words is ‘collaboration.’ And in order for shop local to work, we have to support one another,” said Bri Morris, marketing manager for the chamber. “It’s super simple; it’s restaurants working together, that’s why we love the Salsa Trail and SalsaFest . . . that’s one of the ways the restaurants collaborate.

“We have an amazing new business going in Thatcher called Gila Valley Made. And that is a collaborative effort of a lot of creators and makers and entrepreneurs, which is the lifeblood of business,” she continued. “It’s great to get big and grow to the top, but it starts small.”