FARMINGTON — Some city officials are looking for the positive in a recently released financial report that shows city revenues in the last half of 2012 were below what was budgeted.
Although gross receipts tax revenue is down, and the local economy seems to have stagnated, one city councilman says there are some general signs of stability. City Council will review the report at 9 a.m. on Tuesday during their public work session.
"I feel comfortable with where we're at," said Councilman Dan Darnell. "If (gross receipts tax revenue) stays within the area of 3.5 to 3.7 percent (below budget), I'm alright. I'm betting that by mid to late this year, things will be better."
The area's oil and natural-gas industries could very well provide a boost to a sagging economy, he said.
Darnell said he is keeping a close eye on Mancos Shale oil drilling development, and hopes that it will lead to better economic times for Farmington and the Four Corners region.
"I think we're heading into some "make it or break it' times for our economy," he said. "But if you look, we've got some businesses expanding. I'm cautiously optimistic, and I'm not ready to throw in the towel and start cutting (from the budget)."
The report, which tracks the city's financial status from July to December 2012, shows at least one bright spot.
"In spite of the fact that on (the) budgetary side, revenue is down, when you take actual revenue and compare it to actual expenditures, the surplus is about $910,000," said City Manager Rob Mayes.
Even the city's sagging tax revenue seems to have stabilized.
The city's gross receipts tax revenue through January 2013 is about 3.73 percent under its level last year, Mayes said, citing additional data not available in the report.
That percentage translates into about $845,000 less in tax revenue for the city than predicted.
"It's a reflection of the economic activity in the marketplace," he said. "We've seen that number stay pretty steady for the past four months. It's a fairly stable trend. Overall, six months into the year, I'm most concerned about that (under budget) number."
In spite of some small pieces of good news, Mayes is projecting that he will have to account for about $1.2 million less in tax revenue when calculating his projections for the city's next fiscal year, which starts in July.
That darker side of the city's finances has also been on the mind of Councilwoman Mary Fischer.
"I think the top concern for me is where the money's going to come from for the new positions at the new animal shelter," Fischer said. "I have not seen a plan yet."
The city should take a harder look at what it can do without, she said, citing the city's spending on a number of programs to help street inebriates.
That funding totals about $1 million annually, Fischer said.
"I think we could call (those programs) a failure," she said. "We're not really helping them, and in some cases, we're exacerbating the problem. Much of that money could be funneled over."
The city should concentrate on funding its critical programs and infrastructure, Fischer said.
"I don't ever see (the city) coming up with goals and outcomes," she said. "We don't seem to know what it is we want a program to do, and (if) it did it. Government cannot do all things for all people."