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Metro Phoenix cities try to cope with shortfalls in sales taxes, blight left by shut stores

[Source: Erin Zlomek, Arizona Republic] — As big-box retailers like Circuit City and Mervyn’s shut down stores amid a troubled economy, Arizona cities are preparing for the aftermath: falling sales-tax revenues and an onslaught of vacant storefronts.  By early next year, experts expect that close to 2 million square feet of retail space, about twice the size of an indoor shopping mall like Arizona Mills or Arrowhead Towne Center, will have been vacated in Maricopa County as a result of the economic downturn.  By late next year, more than 75 stores are expected to close, resulting in a loss of nearly 2,000 Arizona retail jobs.

The turnover likely will offer shoppers bargains at various going-out-of-business sales and could eventually inspire an influx of newer, trendier stores.  But the closures also have city officials scrambling to cover revenue shortfalls and deter commercial blight.  Arizona is affected by the retail bloodletting more so than other states.  It has a growth-based economy, and the state’s general fund relies heavily on sales-tax revenue.  “The closure of so many big boxes does have an immediate adverse affect,” said Dennis Kavanaugh, a Mesa councilman.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]