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City of Flagstaff

Flagstaff City Hall. 

The City of Flagstaff plans to launch a new campaign next month in the hopes of encouraging residents to become more involved in the community and shop locally, bringing more sales tax dollars into the city.

Earlier this month, the Flagstaff City Council gave direction to move forward with the roughly $40,000 campaign called Flagstaff Local: My Actions Matter, which will be funded with the city’s bed, board and booze tax.

A collaboration between the city, the university and the Downtown Business Alliance, the campaign will allow residents of the city, and some parts of the county, to enter into competitions, gain points and win prizes.

“It’s really not about what you can win and the prizes you can win, although it kind of makes it fun and exciting,” City Economic Vitality Director Heidi Hansen said. Instead, Hansen said the campaign is more about getting residents to think of how their actions can help the community.

Hansen said the campaign is also meant to stimulate the local economy, helping businesses in Flagstaff and bringing more sales tax dollars into the city.

The campaign originated under the previous city manager Barbara Goodrich after the city began hearing from concerned businesses that residents were buying less locally, potentially because of the start of the paid downtown parking program or because of the city’s high sales tax.

Flagstaff’s sales tax is about a percentage point higher than other cities across the state, according to tax software management company Avalara.

“It’s definitely about having people understand that even though our sales tax might be higher than it is down in the Valley, when they go and choose to buy their automobile in Phoenix instead of their hometown, they’re taking those tax dollars out of this community, which in turn curbs us from being able to provide services in other areas for them,” Hansen said.

The campaign comes as the amount of sales tax the city is bringing in appears to be falling somewhat.

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According to city documents, the city ended fiscal year 2019 with sales tax revenues about 4% below what city officials expected.

Hanson said the program will allow people to register the purchase of goods and services made within city limits to receive five points on a new city-run website. Prizes will be given out in a variety of categories based on the number of points someone has.

Points can also be gained be being involved in the community. For example, volunteering will earn a participant two points while voting will earn someone 10 points and donating to charity will earn five points.

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Prizes would be given out randomly on a weekly basis to anyone registered with the program regardless of the number of points they have, with a grand prize also chosen randomly out of a pool of those with a higher number of points.

Hansen could not speak to what the prizes might include as the city is still finalizing details, but some examples included in the Oct. 8 presentation to the city council were a bike and a year-long lease of a Toyota Prius.

The campaign and website (flagstafflocal.com) will go live on Nov. 21 and continue until June of 2020. Those living in zip codes 86001, 86004, 86005 and 86053 are allowed to take part, but all purchases have to be made within city limits.

Hansen said after June of 2020, the city will review how successful the program was before deciding whether to continue it for a second year.

Updated for correction at 11:06 a.m. on October 22. 

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Adrian Skabelund can be reached at the office at askabelund@azdailysun.com, by phone at (928) 556-2261 or on Twitter @AdrianSkabelund.

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