By Nina Crowder
The Superior Town Council recently approved a two percent tax increase. According to Arizona , the Arizona state sales tax rate depends on local municipalities; the total tax rate can be as high as 10.7 percent. With the approved tax hike, shoppers in Superior will pay the maximum, 10.7 percent.
Arizona has a Transaction Privilege Tax (TPT) which is commonly referred to as a sales tax. Counties and cities can impose a TPT on businesses in their jurisdiction. A TPT is actually a tax on the vendor but the tax is generally passed on to the consumer. Surrounding towns total sales tax rates include: Kearny 9.7 percent, Apache Junction 8.5 percent, Queen Creek 8.55 percent, Florence 8.7 percent, Globe 8.7 percent and Miami 9.2 percent.
The tentative budget summary for the Town of Superior for Fiscal Year 2013-14 was prepared by Pat Walker of Walker Consulting based on input from the Town Council. In order to develop a balanced budget as required under Arizona State Statutes, the Superior Town Council has proposed numerous revenue enhancements to the budget including raising the sales tax by two percent to help generate revenue for the Town of Superior. The Town Council has been working on the budget since early June of this year. According to Walker Consulting, the budget estimates with the 2% sales tax increase for the 2013 year approximately $240,000 and for the 2014 year approximately $383,341, this would help the town significantly.
“I have a great deal of respect for the Superior Town Council,” said Margaret Gaston, interim town manager. “They are just doing what was suggested by Pat Walker of Walker Consulting to help put the town in a better way financially.”
Gaston was hired by the Superior Town Council at the end of the budgeting process.
Many local businesses are unhappy with the council’s decision to increase the sales tax.
Michael and Richard Hing, fourth generation Superiorites who own and operate the Save Money Market on Main St. voiced their concerns about the increase.
“We are against the sales tax increase, but what are we going to do, it is already been passed and it will hurt the townspeople,” said Richard.
“The reason Superior is in deficit is due to funds being mis-spent and any tax increase is going to hurt,” Michael Hing agreed. “Some people may decide to shop out of town for savings. Superior will be hurt by this tax increase but Superior will recover as they always have.”
Michael feels strongly about communication with the town and said, “The town needs to keep working together and move forward.”
Leslie Martin of the Copper Gecko plans to give her customer’s mores sales, discounts and a punch card to help off-set the mind-set of the tax increase.
“Raising the sales tax making it one of the highest in the state gives us a horrible image,” Leslie said.
Martin and Michael Hing feel that it is the psychology mind-set that people are going to react to. It’s not necessarily the monetary aspect of the tax increase, but just knowing they are now going to have to pay more is set in the customer’s minds.
Martin said she moved to Superior about three years ago and wanted to do something on Main St. They have put a lot of money into the Copper Gecko and want to see Superior have successful businesses, but doesn’t feel the Town of Superior has been very supportive of businesses. She is disappointed that the town is going after money in this way when there are other ways to make money for the town.
“I am discouraged as to the town’s stance to pursue the tax increase,” she said. “It is difficult for many of the local people to get out of town to shop and this is upsetting because we have a lot of elderly people who don’t drive and why do we need to get in their pockets like this?”
Sonnie Sansom, her husband and business partner, said, “This is the most unfriendly business town he has ever lived in.”
Curt Williams said he is upset with the tax increase as well as “many other things the town is doing.” He feels very passionate about the town but is afraid by attending the Town Council meetings will cause him to have a heart attack.
An employee of Family Dollar in Superior, who wished to remain anonymous, said she doesn’t feel the tax increase will have much of an effect on the store and people who shop there. The store stays pretty busy, she explained, and they don’t think it will change much. The store has relatively inexpensive items and hopes the people in Superior will continue to support local businesses.
Rolling Rock Gallery owner Kathy Long explained that most of her customers are tourists, winter visitors and mine employees. Long has had her store open for five years.
“Many of the local residents don’t even know the store exists,” she said, “so to throw in another two percent on taxes? Yes, it is going to hurt. More than anything I am angry about the town’s misuse of money. Whatever the town did wrong we are being punished for and that makes me angry.”
Toni Lopez an employee at Rolling Rock, agreed with Long. “It seems like we have been paying for the town’s mistakes for a long time,” she said. “The local people don’t seem to shop at Rolling Rock, but before Resolution Copper had their lay off many people from the mine would shop here. We still have a few people from the mine, but the layoff really hurt the business.”
Will the increase help the estimated $4 million deficit the Town of Superior has in its budget? Many feel it will not do enough.
The new sales tax increase takes place on Dec. 1, 2013 and has a “Sunset Clause” which means that the two percent tax increase will automatically be terminated Nov. 30, 2015 unless it is extended by law.