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2010 Census tally bad news for Tombstone
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2010 Census tally bad news for Tombstone

  • Bobby King of Tombstone Public Works and his team help repair a water meter on Allen Street in Tombstone. His department is planning to downsize its vehicle fleet to help the city deal with some of its revenue loss.
    Mike Christy/Tombstone EpitaphBobby King of Tombstone Public Works and his team help repair a water meter on Allen Street in Tombstone. His department is planning to downsize its vehicle fleet to help the city deal with some of its revenue loss.

When it comes to the 2010 Census figures for Tombstone, there's bad news and then more bad news.

The population dropped by 8.24 percent over the last decade—from 1,504 to 1,380—and with that drop will come a significant reduction in funds from the state, which has officials worried about how to keep the town financially sound.

"The census has a deep meaning for us," said George Barnes, the city clerk/manager. "The number of people here has a lot to do with the money we get from Arizona."

Part of the city's state revenue solely depends on its population, said Karen Lamberton, a former census researcher and current Cochise County transportation planner.

While Tombstone's population fell, Cochise County's grew by 11.5 percent.

The 124-person population loss in Tombstone will result in a cut of $60,000 in state revenue funds, and the cut will be deducted annually from four areas, Barnes said. They include the state-shared income tax revenue, which will be $30,076 less, and the state-shared sales tax, which will be cut $16,380. A total of $6,500 will also be deducted from vehicle license tax revenue, as well as another $20,400 from the highway user revenue fund.

The revenue loss doesn't include the additional $70,000 loss due to state budget cuts, Barnes said. With the budget cuts, Tombstone will witness an overall loss of $130,000 from the state.

"It's a tremendous hit on our budget," said Mayor Jack Henderson. "There is no way we can make up that money without tremendous fee increases, but that's not an option we care to go toward unless it's absolutely mandatory."

Henderson said that the City Council is reviewing the budget and coming up with ways in which it can be adjusted to help prevent an increase in current city rates. Some plans include eliminating overtime and extra work, as well as promoting recycling and glass crushing in order to reduce landfill fees.

And to help lower fuel costs, the city also plans to replace five of Tombstone's Public Works Department vehicles with two fuel-efficient ones.

"We are going to do everything we can to save money," Henderson said. "It's not going to be fun, but necessary."

Keep in mind that there will be some fee increases that "are natural and not influenced by other cuts, such as sewer and water costs," Henderson said.

Henderson said the city also hopes to earn back some of the losses by promoting more tourism for local businesses.

"If businesses lose money, they pay less in taxes," the mayor said. "If they do great, they pay more. We want them to have a successful year."

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