For years Rio Nuevo has been shortchanged on revenues because not every business that is supposed to be paying into the district has been.
But that could change soon, as the district’s board unanimously authorized signing an agreement with the Arizona Department of Revenue giving the district access to tax forms showing which businesses’ sales tax collections are being credited to the downtown redevelopment effort.
About 1,100 businesses within the district are supposed to fill in a code on their tax forms so Rio Nuevo can receive its share of those tax dollars. But district employees can’t access the forms to see how many of them are actually entering the code.
The result has been fluctuating sales tax revenue that Rio Nuevo officials can’t explain.
For the next fiscal year, the district projects its monthly sales tax collection will be about $825,000 a month, down from a three-year average of $857,000 a month.
“It’s counterintuitive because you drive down Broadway and all of that retail is taxpaying businesses,” said Rio Nuevo Chairman Fletcher McCusker. “So instinctively we all believe the (revenues) should be up.”
Filling in the box doesn’t increase the amount of tax collected, but it means the money goes to the state instead of remaining in Tucson.
Reasons for noncompliance ranged from merchants not knowing the code exists to others refusing to fill it in as a form of boycott against the district, McCusker said.
Although the agreement won’t result in perfect compliance right away, it will allow Rio Neuvo to identify who’s not submitting the paperwork and work with them, he said.
McCusker said the agreement should be signed within the next few weeks.
The board also approved $25,000 for a group looking to renovate the fountains that link La Placita Village and the Tucson Convention Center.
The money, however, is contingent upon the group finding a match from the city, county or private parties.
Plans call for about $55,000 in improvements to the fountain area, said Karla Van Drunen Ittooy of TCC Today, an upgrade she hopes will foster a larger $28 million upgrade to the TCC complex.