City reports rosy financial picture

Increased tourism, reduced expenses lead to solid budget year

An internal financial report outlining the final quarter of the 2016–17 budget year shows the city of Page continuing its tourism-driven economic boom, as well as its moderate increases in personnel and infrastructure spending.

The city earned $2.8 million more from all revenue sources than it did last year — an increase of 13 percent.  Unsurprisingly, the lion’s share of which came from sales tax revenue. 

Page outpaced its overall revenue budget by nearly a million dollars, but also utilized only 79 percent of its expense budget. In total, the city earned roughly $24 million in revenue and spent about $18.9 million, which is a 12.8 percent increase from last budget year (most of which came in the form of hiring and capital improvements), but was still down in total spending by three percent.

When looking at Page’s general fund, the section of the budget that controls much of the day-to-day spending noticeable by the average Page citizen, expenses increased by $2.5 million, or 21 percent more from FY 2015–16. 

In total, the city spent about 93 percent of its budgeted expenditures for FY 2016–17, which ended on June 30.  Page coffers were also filled with more than $11.3 million of sales tax revenue by the end of the budget year — up from $10.2 million last year. This accounts for 72.5 percent of all general fund revenue earned and marks the third year in a row where the city topped its previous year tax earnings by more than a million dollars.

Notes written in the report indicate the city is expecting tax revenues to continue to increase the next budget year.

Payments toward an outstanding bond debt have also been ramped up in the last two budget cycles. Once an outstanding $14 million raincloud looming over the city, the debt, which was accrued after the construction of the 22-year-old Lake Powell National Golf Course, is on track to be paid in full by its call date in 2021, if not sooner.

A good portion of the city’s increased expenditures can be attributed to new hires throughout the year. Most notable are new police officers, EMTs/firefighters, an economic development coordinator and varying positions in the public works department, library and courts. 

City leaders are also on the hunt for a human resources coordinator and more engineering staff in the near future.

Page City Councilman Dennis “Dugan” Warner has voiced slight concern with Page’s uptick in spending, saying he agrees the previous hires have been a good move for the city, but would like to err on the side of caution moving forward.

Citing the closure of the Navajo Generating Station and the unpredictability of the area’s future tourism, Warner advocated during a special work session last month the city begin to scale back personnel hiring, but continue to focus on injecting money into Page’s roads, parks and other infrastructure projects.

Planning for sustainability, he said, will be critical in the years preceding the plant’s closure.

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