Justin Johnson

Show Low Administrativ e Services Director Justin Johnson

SHOW LOW — Show Low’s 2020 Year in Review statement along with multiple presentations by Show Low Administrative Services Director Justin Johnson provided examples of the city’s economic steadiness despite the pandemic.

The budget, in recent meetings has been described as “tracking well and actual expenditures would continue to underspend the budgeted amount,” said Johnson in a February budget presentation to the city council.

“Last year brought some challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic but the upward trend for growth in Show Low continues, reflected by the city’s stable economy,” stated the Year in Review document which further summarized components of Johnson’s comprehensive budget presentations.

“Although growth has not been robust, projections are that Show Low’s growth will match the overall Arizona economy — slow but steady,” said the Year in Review. The City of Show Low also enjoyed increased sales tax revenues as well as growing residential and commercial activity.

The City of Show Low, known for its conservative fiscal policies, has not changed its philosophy of maintaining a reserve for emergencies such as COVID-19.

“Our conservatism has allowed us to continue delivering full public safety (police) and public works services, including water and sewer maintenance, road maintenance and snow plowing ,” also stated the Year in Review. “We are able to provide community programs, such as family activities, holiday-themed events and sports tournaments. We want to ensure that Show Low is a leader in our region, known for providing excellent service and resources to our citizens.”

Both the Town Hall Budget Meeting held Jan. 21 and the Feb. 2 council meeting provided budget information to the council and the public. Planning for the fiscal year 2022 budget has already begun, one of the most important goals being an “opportunity for citizen input and transparency.”

Show Low City Manager Ed Muder’s recommended budget will be delivered to the city council April 6. The public is invited to attend this meeting as well as all city of Show Low public meetings.

One of the consistent take-aways during various budget review and meetings is that citizen involvement is welcomed throughout the budget process. Show Low city staff, the city manager and the entire city council encourage residents to review the budget and ask questions.

Budget take-aways

Johnson provided additional details about the city budget with key points including the fiscal year’s 2021 adopted budget total of $60.3 million. The estimated budget for fiscal year 2022 was projected at $53.7 million, which included all capital improvement projects. (This projection could change as the budget process progresses.)

Estimated operating revenues for all funds for fiscal year 2022 came to $34,452,307, said Johnson. He also noted that preliminary estimates were lower than estimates for fiscal year 2021 because of reduced grant revenue from projects being completed. (These figures weren’t finalized since state projections hadn’t been received yet and would be revised further along in the budget process.)

City sales tax collections (a 2% tax rate) is still the city of Show Low’s primary revenue generator said Johnson. And, local sales tax projections for fiscal year 2021 remained conservative, similar to the previous year’s projections which were estimated to be about $10.5 million sales tax collections.

A Council Contingency budget of at least $300,000 will be maintained, although the Council has the discretion to increase that amount.

Debt service will seek opportunities to pay down or pay off debt when funds were available. In addition, a wage increase for employees is being considered.

The city will also continue to maintain three months of operating reserves for the general fund and wastewater and water funds. Another goal is to budget additional funds to decrease the city’s Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS) debt.

To access the budget

To view the city of Show Low budget, visit the city’s official website at www.showlowaz.gov/261/Finance-Department. The Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports are also available on the website. The most recent report for 2020 can be accessed at showlowaz.gov.

Budget meetings

Upcoming budget meetings that may be of interest to the public include the City Council Budget Study Session and Presentation of City Manager’s Recommended Budget, held Tuesday, April 6 at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers. The next budget meeting will be the Town Hall Budget Meeting and City Council Budget Study Session held April 15 at 6:00 p.m., also in the council chambers.

The entire budget calendar and request forms are available at showlowaz.gov/262/Budget-Division.

The next regular city council meeting will occur Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers.

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Laura Singleton is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering Show Low city government, business and education.

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