Talon News - Good Local News



January 12, 2018

Is the local economy improving? According to Interim Aztec City Manager, Steve Mueller, “Aztec has seen a slight increase in GRT’s (gross receipts tax) over the past couple of months and remains optimistic that the trend will continue upwards. O’Reilly’s Auto Parts just opened and McDonalds is in the process of completing a remodel of their Aztec location.” There have been two residential development permits submitted for approval within the past month and six new businesses have opened in Aztec within the past year.”

The economic picture for any region is primarily interpreted by looking at these factors: population and demographics, employment and jobs, manufacturing and production, inflation and prices, housing and real estate values, state revenue trends, retail sales and inventories, travel and tourism, recreational and other. In November, the unemployment rate of 6.4% for San Juan County showed a small drop from September’s 6.9%, a very slight move in the right direction.

Aztec Finance Director Kathy Lamb said, “While the GRT distribution reflects growth, you need to be aware the GRT was budgeted conservatively (approx 9% less than actual receipts for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016). Actual collections for July, August & September are very similar to the same period a year ago; October and November are 12% greater than a year ago. We don’t receive sufficient information from NM Taxation & Revenue to identify if the increase is due to local growth or adjustments/corrections from previous periods. Two months of GRT increase is not sufficient to determine if there is a growth trend in Aztec.”

According to Lamb, “Property taxes are budgeted based on the valuations provided by San Juan County. Taxes are paid to the county and distributed to the local governments monthly. The bulk of the distributions occur in December/January and May/June. Based on the last fiscal year, the City received 97.5% of the current taxes due; the average for the past several years is 98%.”

She added, “Another indicator may be how utility accounts are collected. For FY17, collection of current bills was 89%; for the period July to Sept., 2017, 86.7%. However, for the same period a year ago, the collection rate was 86.58%. Utility revenues for July-September, 2017 are very similar to one year ago. Utility rate increases were effective October, 2017.”

Asked if the City of Aztec going to four-day work week had positively affected the budget, she stated, “There is not significant savings as a result of the four day work week. We have several facilities that are operational beyond four days: Senior Center, Library, Police Department, Animal Care and Water/Wastewater Treatment Plants.”

Mr. Mueller encourages new businesses to take advantage of the Community Development Department for the City of Aztec. Merchants will be able to gain valuable information on potential locations, zoning requirements, signs and access. They can also take advantage of other services such as Aztec HUB business incubator, Small Business Development Center and the New Mexico Economic Development Department.”

Locally-owned businesses largely depend on holiday season spending to stay in the black, just as do the corporate “big box” stores. The difference is, local businesses - run by our friends and neighbors - are more likely to spend their profits locally. A growing, healthy economy requires the loyalty and support of its businesses by residents. Nothing else works.


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