[Source: Scott Wong, Arizona Republic] — Amid a staggering budget crisis, Phoenix is moving forward with the first of a handful of ideas to generate revenue for the city: get businesses to pay their taxes. City Council members voted last week to give city staff members more tools to be able to track down some of the 15,000 taxpayers with missing tax returns, delinquent tax payments, or late tax-license fees. Those tools include automated computer systems that will notify taxpayers of delinquent payments by mail or phone, as well as stiffer collection fees and tax liens. The measures, which will take effect in January, are expected to haul in $650,000 a year for the city. But that will offer only minor relief as city officials aim to slash an estimated $250 million from Phoenix’s $1.2 billion general fund by spring.
Improving tax collections is just one of ten proposals a 25-member city task force came up with this year to generate more money for the city. The group’s charge is to raise $7.5 million by June 2010. Other ideas being explored are:
- leasing space on city properties for cellphone towers
- increasing parking-meter rates
- creating a Phoenix credit card that would give the city a percentage of each purchase
- eBay-type auctions for surplus city-owned land to attract more bidders