Another (not so expected) reason a temple can be a blessing to the community

While it is still too early to determine the exact financial impact of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' temple open house, it is evident that due to the sheer number of visitors, it was a boon to local businesses and municipalities in the Gila Valley.

City Manager David Kincaid said that about 49 percent of Safford's general operating fund comes from local sales tax revenue. He said while the city won't see sales tax numbers for the temple tour dates until its June report, business was definitely up, and there is no question it has helped the city begin to erase its $1 million deficit.

The city is about 18.5 percent down for the first eight months of fiscal year 2009/10 and about 30 percent down from Safford's peak in fiscal year 2007/08.

Kincaid said the good news is the April reporting, which covers February and March numbers, is the first month in about a year that there has been an increase in sales tax revenues in the past year. Collections in Septem-ber 2009 were the worst at a decrease of about 30 percent and have steadily gotten better each month, culminating with a 2-percent increase for April's reporting.

"The trend is in the right direction," Kincaid said. "And certainly, the temple visitors helped."

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