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City of Sedona July 2018 wastewater rate increase illegal?

Sedona AZ (April 15, 2018) – The following is a letter to the SedonaEye.com editor:

Sedona wastewater treatment wetlands: In 2016, over 40% of Sedona homes still lacked sewer hook-ups. Despite 4% annual rate increases since 2014 (scheduled to sunset June 30, 2018), the City Council plan to continue with annual increases of 4% through 2020 and 3% through 2023 has many Sedona residents questioning rate increase legality. Sedona wastewater rates are currently among the highest in Arizona.

Sedona’s wastewater rates are among the highest in Arizona. Still, the last four years saw annual rate increases of 4% that are legally due to end on June 30, 2018. But there’s a problem. The City is intending to raise WW rates illegally beginning July 1, 2018.

Here’s some history of their process.

The January 15, 2014 ACTION MINUTES state: “Council agreed by majority consensus to approve the financial plan recommendations for a 4% per year increase in rate-based revenues for FY 2014-15 through FY 2017-18.”

The March 17, 2014, NOTICE OF INTENTION TO INCREASE WASTEWATER RATES OR RATE COMPONENTS, FEES OR SERVICE CHARGES states regarding the rate increases: “These rates and fees will be increased by 4% per year at the beginning of each year on July 1. These annual increases will continue for the next three years through FY 2017-18.”

Page 1-10 of the Assistant City Manager’s PROPOSED BUDGET FISCAL YEAR 2015-2016 states: “On May 27, 2014, the City Council adopted a new wastewater rate structure which tied the rates to the cost of providing service and included a four percent (4%) increase each July 1st from 2014 through 2018.”

City of Sedona Council Chamber

Although the annual percentage rate increases adopted end on June 30, 2018, the City Council plans to violate current law, ORDINANCE NO. 2014-15, EXHIBIT A: WASTEWATER FEE SCHEDULE 2014-18. Page 82 of the latest version of the FY 2017-18 ANNUAL BUDGET document falsely states 4% increases were “Adopted by Council- 5/20/2014” for “FY 2018-19 and FY 2019-20,” and adds that 3% increases were “Scheduled In the Rate Study Approved by Council” for “FY 2020-2021, FY 2021-22, and FY 2022-23.”

The Council did not adopt these increases for FY 2019-2023 in 2014, nor was there a Council meeting on 5/20/2014, the date of a P & Z meeting. They were sneaked into City budgets without a Notice of Intention and a Public Hearing.

This is the link to the State law that requires the Notice of Intention and Public Hearing. Arizona Revised Statute 9-511.01 Water and wastewater business; rates; procedures; responsibility for payments –
http://www.azleg.gov/search/oop/qfullhit.asp?CiWebHitsFile=/ars/9/00511-01.htm&CiRestriction=95110
“A.2.: Adopt a notice of intention by motion at a regular council meeting to increase water or wastewater rates or rate components, fees or service charges and set a date for a public hearing on the proposed increase that shall be held at least sixty days after adoption of the notice of intention.”

The required NOTICE OF INTENTION and subsequent PUBLIC HEARING regarding the five specious annual rate increases for FY 2018-19 through FY 2022-23 have yet to take place.

At this point, the City Council cannot legally increase annual rates after June 30, 2018.

How many times have I written the City Council concerning their planned percentage rate increases beyond 2017-18 and been ignored? Probably four. The Council not only seems to be ignoring me, but the state law as well.

Jean Jenks
Sedona Arizona

 

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8 Comments

  1. Phil says:

    will pass on to contact list & others should too, dammit FB the thing

  2. JeanJ says:

    “Indirect Cost Allocations” in the current city budget show the Wastewater Fund being charged the pricey sum of $1,056,950 by the following City departments:

    – $180,040 Information Technology
    – $ 51,140 Human Resources
    – $189,420 Financial Services
    – $370,640 Utility Billing
    – $ 73,470 General Services
    – $ 68,080 City Manager
    – $ 5,650 City Clerk
    – $ 55,100 City Attorney
    – $ 63,410 Facilities Maintenance

    Last fiscal year’s indirect cost charge to the WW Find was $668,566. $1,056,950 is a 58 percent increase.

    The City has a non-discrimination ordinance. Why are there no “Indirect Cost Allocations”charged the Chamber of Commerce?

  3. @Jean J says:

    You can write all the facts you like Jean. The city laughs at you and so few residents care more than to write a comment your precise words are useless. It appears no amount of facts and traffic will move voters to action. Apathetic residents will get what they deserve, good and hard. Has the city every take action after you pointed out their misdeeds? Sedona is done. Apathy and greed killed it.

  4. JeanJ says:

    Residential sewer rates are unfair. Although the City Manager did not recommend it, Consultant Grant Hoag got the Council to waive the 10% annual rate increase for FY 2014 because there was much more money in the Wastewater Fund than projected.

    Then in January, thanks to the City Manager at that time, the Council agreed to approve a one-time 10% Cost of Service Adjustment. Didn’t Restaurants benefit from the 10% increase previously waived for residents? During the January 15, 2014 City Council meeting, Council agree to one-time adjustments as follows:

    Single family residential: 10% increase
    Single family Low Flow: 5.4% decrease
    Multi-family customers: 17% decrease
    Restaurants: 27% decrease
    Hotels & Resorts: 6.4% increase
    Other Commercial accounts: 23% increase

  5. F.Y.I. says:

    @@Jean J

    Those who are interested may want to file a complaint against the City of Sedona with the Goldwater Institute.

    https://www.goldwaterinstitute.org Click on: “Need help? Submit a case>” and fill out their form, or email caseinquiry@goldwaterinstitute.org.

    So, is the welfare of residents discussed at City Council meetings? NO. As posted on Sedona biz by an Uptown resident: “The City Manager recently told me that ‘Sedona is no longer a residential town, it is now a tourist/resort town and we have to prepare for future growth of tourists.’ ” This resident further commented that “The idea of ‘just what can we do to encourage more tourists’ is entrenched in every [City] department.”

    Vote NO on Home Rule. Vote all incumbents off the City Council.

  6. Ken says:

    VOTE NO ON MORE TAXES. VOTE NO ON MORE TRAFFIC CONGESTION. VOTE NO ON BAD SCHOOLS. JUST SAY NO TO CAREER POLITICIANS AND LOBBYISTS. JUST SAY NO ON HOME RULE.

  7. M Mallon says:

    If you want to change things, voted the existing city council out, do not vote in any incumbent or any past council member.

    Absolutely, also vote NO on Home Rule !!

  8. JeanJ says:

    I see where the FY 2018-19 PROPOSED BUDGET lists the WW FY18 TARGET and the WW FY19 TARGET rates both as $61.11 with regard to Single Family Residential Monthly Sewer Bills. I am hoping this means the annual 4% increases to our WW rates will indeed end on June 30, 2018.

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