Home » City Council, Community » Council Must Address New Sales and Property Tax Risks

Council Must Address New Sales and Property Tax Risks

J. Rick Normand

J. Rick Normand, SedonaEye.com Financial Columnist

Sedona AZ (July 26, 2013) – We all keep hearing the arguments from our City’s Council, with the exception of our Vice-Mayor, and from the Sedona Chamber of Commerce and City Staff, that we need additional bed and sales taxes to pay for the unexpected costs of additional destination traveler marketing and the implied possibility of redirection of those collections to future capital improvements at a future date. The implication is that agreement by the public to pay for these new and never-ending taxes and fees is the moral duty and obligation of the public-at-large.

Not exactly!

When a politician or commercial beneficiary of these taxes tells the public that they must fulfill their civic duty by unchallenged agreement to pay them, what they’re not saying is that the unexpected need for these soon-to-be newly levied taxes is the result of just one of three things. They are that 1.] the City mistakenly forecast revenues too low as well as capital improvement costs, or 2] the City spent precious reserves on non-productive projects at a time when they should have known they couldn’t timely replace those critical lost reserves or 3] the City Administration was so devoid of creative financial conceptual thinking that it never occurred to them to explore non-tax revenues concepts and sources or any combination of the aforementioned.

That’s it!

Nevertheless, even if the new cash flow is, indeed, desperately needed due to the City’s own misguided largess, there must still be considered the prospect of unintended consequences if the proposed new tax is adopted. These, the public is never told about. Staff and Council just assume that any newly legislated and ordained tax will be collected without offsetting consequences.

Not true! Here are the possibilities that are not being conveyed to the ordinary citizens of the City of Sedona:

Sedona Arizona

Sedona Arizona

1] Irrespective of the Chamber’s proposed destination traveler advertising campaign, Sedona’s Business Model won’t attract sufficient destination travelers to support the City’s basic budget needs because it can’t offer robust and diverse nightlife attractions that permit large crowd interaction which is unequivocally essential to the nightlife requirements of most destination travelers.

A quiet night at Sound Bites won’t do it. That only appeals to locals. Robust destination traveler nightlife requires the excitement inherent within the interaction of large crowds, not the quiet repose of our late night establishments (before you all panic over this statement, see the alternative “quiet” solution below). The reason we all go to the movies is in order to experience the thrill of being with others, en masse, who enjoy and react as we do to the very same entertainment. People want to share a thrill. Otherwise, everyone would just stay home and watch movies on DVDs.

2] Sedona’s Business Model is entirely based upon excise tax, bed tax, and fee based income in a small business marketplace, split almost equally between locals and tourists with a not-so-huge bias towards tourism, that is deteriorating…even before a recession. The City may ordain new taxes, but it won’t collect much.

3] Sedona’s forecast for sales tax collections, subject to the next legislatively imposed new tax, will cause a serious number of non-tourist related small business failures because it will drive local business customers to the VOC, Cottonwood, Camp Verde, Flagstaff, Prescott and to online retailers. Most all of Sedona’s non-Chamber retailers and many of their member retailers will confirm this. Sedona will cause a mini-business boom in the Village though.

4] A new/additional sales tax will criminalize many marginal non-tourist small businesses which will have to offer under-the-table discounts for necessarily unreported cash sales in order to survive. Penalize them when caught and they will just file bankruptcy. What will the City do? Start “leining” then, suing them or arresting them?

side walk dining sedona restaurant uptown

In order to attract evening business, Normand suggests night time destination traveler attractions for the City of Sedona.

Well, you all should know that Council has already passed an ordinance to permit the City to fine delinquent sales tax remitters or jail them for up to six months. Wait until word of this spreads around the state! What if Council raises taxes and then uses legal force to hammer those who’ve lost business due to the fact that the last sales tax increase has cost them significant business. Talk about killing new business prospects. And besides, don’t we have enough political animosity in this town already?

5] A new/additional sales tax above the current total combined tax load threshold is seriously regressive to seniors, retirees, and low income residents, and it’s punitive to non-tourist related small businesses. Effectively, it will seriously damage, if not destroy, the retiree and second home real estate markets and Sedona’s population will shrink even more…and do it quickly. Staff has completely overlooked the facts that our small businesses now have to start paying additional ObamaCare ordained employment and health benefits payroll taxes that they have never had to pay before. Not only do our business citizens have to endure that, but all our property owning citizens now have to pay a 3.8% ObamaCare title transfer tax on their homes, business properties and investment properties plus pay the City’s ever-rising sewer tax fees and fees to, doubtless, service special improvement districts. Then, in addition to all of these new/additional regressive and punitive taxes, the Sedona Fire District is now insisting on a substantial new property tax.

Then to top it all off, on Tuesday, June 30, 2013, Council will discuss the concept and methodology for getting the public’s approval of a new property tax to function as security for a possible General Obligation Bond issue. GO bonds are issued by states, cities or counties. They are backed by the “full faith and credit” of the government entity issuing the bonds. The creditworthiness of GO bonds is based primarily on the economic strength of the issuer’s tax base. This is amusing considering that on this current Council’s watch, Sedona’s bond rating has been downgraded twice to the point where just one more downgrade will take it down to the lowest possible rating before it becomes non-investment grade. And, who will invest in those dogs?

Still the question remains…how many more straws can Council keep adding to the weight of the “cost of government burden” on the citizenry’s collective back? The answer is that Sedona’s seniors, retirees, and low-income wage earners just simply cannot endure this monumental combined tax burden, and, therefore, they will just leave…permanently. There will be no new arrivals to replace them, either, except for bargain basement bottom dwelling investment property buyers who are always very clever at finding ways to avoid local taxes. And, they almost always rent their properties. Get ready for a tidal wave of low-income renters in Sedona.

6] A new/additional sales tax will discourage any new businesses from opening up in Sedona as Sedona will have developed an anti-business reputation which will be hard to dispel…ever!

7] A new/additional sales tax will discourage successful non-tourist related businesses from expanding, especially in west Sedona.

8] A new/additional sales tax will cause sales reporting to slow beyond prescribed payment deadlines and it will cause some payments to be deferred and, therefore, collection costs will rise even more than the absurd collection fees the City is already paying.

9] A new/additional sales tax will cause distrust of City government to rise exponentially.

10] All these factors, in the aggregate, will likely result in a third bond rating reduction in Sedona muni-bonds and the next one will take Sedona close to, or possibly, below prime investment grade. That will make the next anticipated General Obligation Bond offering look very dicey, indeed, especially since it will likely happen after a prolonged period of observable declining revenues, continuing observable declining allocations from the General Fund to the CAFR Waste Water Enterprise Fund and continuing shrinking population.

Successful destination traveler markets don’t shrink. We’re seriously shrinking.

Is there a solution? You bet there is.

Sedona Arizona

City of Sedona tourist revenues are shrinking

The first step, though, is to admit that Sedona has a failing business model. Then adopt a new hybrid business model similar to those of the Cities of Palm Desert, California, and Durango, Colorado. Get off the pure tax-based revenue model and go to a model combining the same, but lower, tax categories with commercial development partnerships (such as with Out of Africa or take a look at ASU’s/Tempe’s first ever UAFD plan), commercial sponsorship’s of nine-month’s worth of “area-restricted” three day minimum festivals and income producing events, creation and operation of profit-oriented municipally owned entertainment enterprises (zoos, aviaries, museums, movie production assistance, all fall into this category), then proceed to adoption of a public-approved transitional zoning package that will allow for development of a “no noise, no bright lights, no offensive noise, no traffic congestion causing” development environment for top night time destination traveler attractions – such as enclosed specialized dance clubs with spacious dance floors, a Shakespearean Globe Theatre that appeals to aspiring collegiate actors, re-invigoration of our defunct Amphitheater, low-light side walk cafes, a multitude of night time festivals at Tlaquepaque and the Hillside Market, and most of all, the true incorporation of west Sedona into the new business model as a fully participating partner instead of a nuisance step child.

Rezone and change the look of the entirety of west 89A to a uniform attractive appearance such as Scottsdale did in similar situations. Bring in a cooperative fine arts or technology oriented college campus such as Palm Desert, CA did. Convention facilities are a must since Conventioneers are at the top of income profile of the most reliable destination travelers. And finally, stop the local cronyism and start putting out the destination tourism development contract to public competitive bidding subject to performance bonding requirements. Do the same with development planning too.

Start privatizing many City Staff functions by delegating them to private contractors who are recognized and proven experts in the fields of municipal management practice. For instance, the City of Palm Desert, the greatest small town tourism dynamo story in the U.S. today, which has a full time population of five times ours and a winter population that mushrooms to 81,000, manages it all with about the same number of city employees that tiny Sedona has simply by contracting city services to expert management companies with great municipal management experience on a competitive/performance bonded bid basis. This keeps city payroll low, keeps sales taxes down, although they do have a small property tax, keeps budgeted operating expenses low, leaves more money for bid selected destination traveler marketing, and allows the city to manage their own tourist/visitor information center for only $290,000 a year (remember, their city is five times bigger than ours but we’re paying a whopping $274,000 a year), all while keeping debt to a very manageable level and continually increasing non-tax revenues.

Sedona City MapHaving pointed all this out, however, I can guarantee this will happen…just watch! Every time anyone outside local government presents a pro-tax Councilor with unassailable facts and situations they always have a standard response “…but you don’t have all your facts straight, as usual, and so you don’t understand the situation (be sure to recognize the intent of the ‘as usual’ part of the standard response…it implies that no criticism from the public is ever right).”

If the public is always being accused of not having their facts straight and not understanding an issue, then who’s fault is that? It’s Council’s fault, period!

I’ll tell you who does understand, though,…the monied destination traveler targeted by the Chamber (but never acquired), the world’s wealthy benefactors who invest heavily in Palm Desert, the Colorado western slopes and the rest of the small resort towns that I’ve recited to certain Councilors time and again, residents who demand and expect results instead of excuses and rationalizations for economic failure, and financiers who don’t have to worry about far “off-target” revenue, budgeted operating costs, and capital improvement cost projections and know there’s a viable proven overall business model in place which can withstand recessions.

All of these essential community players, critical to our quality of life here, expect to find a town which has a business model that the entire business community believes in, not just one pampered sector of it. We’ve failed miserably on every count Councilors.

Have you read the multitude of comments that are coming in to my articles? If you have, you should know that they’re from prominent people in Sedona who are getting sick and tired of hearing from pro-tax Councilors and Financial Staff “…you don’t have your facts straight, as usual, and so you don’t understand the situation.” Any confusion is the collective fault of the City Administration, not the public who never is told the full story as pointed out above.

For the best in Arizona news and views, read www.SedonaEye.com daily!

For the best in Arizona news and views, read www.SedonaEye.com daily!

36 Comments

  1. Jean says:

    Dear Property Owner,

    I am writing concerning the Secondary Property Tax and the Special Improvement District matters listed on the July 30th City Council agenda. Both pertain to charging us to fund drainage projects. Referring to the City’s website provides more information.

    Coconino County already has a secondary property tax for drainage problems (Ref. FLOOD CONTROL DIST on its tax bills). If my understanding is correct, the City has approximately $6 million in its coffers from Coconino County for this very purpose. Property owners in Coconino County must not be charged by the City in addition.

    As is well known, this Council and others have failed to address drainage/flooding problems in a timely manner, setting them aside year after year. Not only that, in my opinion City Hall has failed to get its priorities straight and seems incapable of listening.

    Why should our tax-and-spend Mayor and Council receive new taxes on any level? City budgets ought to set aside funds to correct drainage problems on time without resorting to raiding property owners wallets.

    Sincerely,

    Jean Jenks

  2. Readers:

    I’m quite sure, as usual, I will get several comments which say something like “…we don’t need to be like Palm Desert, or Santa Fe, or Durango, or where ever! My point is not that we should try to mimic any other small resort town, but, rather, we should talk to these other towns which have the characteristics that we have determined that we have, and find out how they successfully developed and applied them.

  3. John Balla says:

    As per my article in Sedonabiz last week… “Vampire Budgets Places Sedona on Same Path as Detroit,” which now has filed for bankruptcy (by the way), anyway you slice or dice it, the policy decisions of the City have failed. Simple cause and effect stuff. Sedona is in decline when it should at least be experiencing modest growth.

    A few particulars really concern me that your article brought to bear:

    1) City officials using, “You don’t know your facts” as a rhetorical response. I say rhetorical because if we don’t have the facts, give them to us. Any claim that is not accompanied by proof or evidence is necessarily suspicious. On an important side note, several responses to my article did furnish additional facts that helped everyone in the discussion thread adjust their positions and views accordingly, myself include. This is no small point for it shows there are many among us who can put our egos aside because they just want to know the truth. It strengthens the community, reduces widespread alienation and is a very important first step toward making progress. Of course, others just ran like hell because they our too vested in their beliefs to cope with information that is contrary to what they so desperately wand and unfortunately NEED to believe. I’ve never been a big fan of beliefs, my own included. In any case, such arrogant treatment of our citizenry is not only narcissistic, but also, antagonistic. As such, who can blame anyone from taking umbrage. I think it’s fair to say that we have a serious “Ivory Tower” complex taking hold on many of our elected City officials.

    2) Lack of problem solving skills. It’s becoming painfully clear that there’s isn’t a single problem that can’t be fixed with a new tax or fee. Except of course, it’s not working for the many reasons you articulated. Raising taxes and fees should always be a last resort, not the “only option.” Moreover, if taxes actually provide an ROI to those they are imposed upon, that’s a different matter. But we already have enough prove via a declining economy that should be growing (at least modestly) that they’re having the opposite effect.

    As for overseeing expenditures/investments, it would stand to reason this is not happening because if one cannot oversee itself — what some would call HONESTY and SELF EFFACEMENT — how could we expect such discipline to magically be applied to pubic or private beneficiaries? Instead, we get a lecture about facts without — you guessed it — any facts.

    Thanks for taking the time to elucidate the problems. But was even more refreshing was to read your litany of potential solutions, none of which raises taxes or fees. I’m hopeful, but not optimistic, that the City consider them (and others). That being said, they just may be too lazy to care, for I serious doubt whether the question is being asked; Does X or Y policy decision cause WEALTH EXTRACTION or WEALTH CREATION. And it should be on every single vote.

    Imagine having a debate over this specter. Now that would be some real progress, but it would signify just the beginning of the beginning of the solution. Be bold. Be radical (in the true sense of the word), i.e., to go to the root of the problem.

    But for right now, it seems as though the City has never met a tax it didn’t like. Such reductionistic thinking will almost never be able to see the real problems, let alone solve them.

  4. Kim Chott says:

    It’s a shame our City Council is pumping our tax dollars to the Chamber of Commerce. Chamber’s are not subsidized by city tax revenues. Chamber fundraisers, donations, membership revenues should be their only source of income.

    Why is Sedona so different? Do we welcome our tax dollars being spent to bring more traffic to our already congested roads? I say improve our drainage problems and repair our roads with tax revenues. Have you looked at our roads lately? I for one am tired of seeing tax revenues directed to tourism in Sedona. How about thinking of the citizens that live here for a change.

  5. Fact – the more you tax something the less of it you get. Services, money, or action. The minimum wage is a tax on the unemployed. The higher it is the less folks that are hired. But arm chair economists never learn about the real world. The tax code, at any level really has nothing to do with raising money, it’s all about control. So, raise taxes all you want, but don’t expect more revenue. Laffer Curve, study it, Google it.

    I also find it an interesting case study of Sandy Spring, GA, population 100,000, sixth largest city in GA. How many city employees do they have? 150 (http://www.sandyspringsga.org/Careers/Featured-Opportunities) Wow, how do they do that? Privatization. They run a surplus, and all contracts are posted on line for all to see. And compared to cities with city workers, their services coat about HALF as compared to government run services. Fact, sorry, competition works. I wonder if they have a city engineer who is responsible for a collapsed dome or a recreational sewage processing plant?

    When is the city going to start demanding ROI (return on investment) form the Chamber of Commerce? Let’s see, raise sales and bed tax, give more money to the chamber to get more people in to pay the high taxes, sounds like it should be an upward spiral, except revenues are falling and the more complex the sales tax system is (No thanks to the city for making it difficult to report and track) the less businesses are going to pay it.

    Comment was made about West Sedona, our 89A corridor, making it attractive for tourists, which now looks like an industrial strip, lights and all. The city had, and voted to accept control over the corridor, much more than the street, and the citizens were bamboozled into thinking that was a bad idea. So forget about that one. We’re stuck with what we have.

    How about the core problem, sales tax only equals about 40% of the city revenue. The state sends some money in based on population, a sizeable chunk. Well… Arizona gained 10%, assumed all cities would gain and were paying accordingly, but Sedona did not, in fact lost population. So according to the Mayor, a big hit to bottom line in the budget when AZ adjusted payments based on the census.. Now they want to continue to spend like they have it, but don’t. Sounds like Washington doesn’t it, except Sedona can’t print money. Too bad, they could print their way out of the financial doldrums.

  6. Liked this article on Facebook.

  7. Jean says:

    Tidbits:

    1) SPERLING’S BEST PLACES website reports: “According to the rest of the country, Sedona’s Cost of Living is 26.30% higher than the U.S. average.”

    2) The economists at the St. Louis Fed found that, except for concentrated holdings by wealthy families, Americans have recovered only 45% of what they lost during the great recession. Source: St. Louis Federal Reserve 2012 Annual Report.

    3) The FACTS ON HOME RULE AND CITY FINANCES document mailed out twice in about February 2012 stated: “Since 1996, the City has built savings for any adverse future economic times and other unexpected emergencies.” Not one word was mentioned about the enormously expensive drainage problems or that the City was spending over 25 years worth of savings in approximately two years time. $250,000–an illegal charge–was levied to submit an Argument Against for the voter Publicity Pamphlet (See ARS 41-563.02.B.8, last sentence), defanging me from spilling the financial beans. In addition, DORR announced Sedona City Manager Tim Ernster would speak on “The Importance of Home Rule for Sedona” on February 16, 2012. Does not ARS 9-500.14 prohibit the use of city resources or employees from influencing elections?

    4) Jim in Uptown wondered elsewhere in the EYE: Why not a change in the allocation of Development Impact fees directing them towards “development impacts” instead of purchasing vacant land and art for public places?

    5) Only last week, on 7/23/2103, the City Council went into Executive Session to discuss negotiations, etc., re the purchase of real property located at 250 Brewer Road, Sedona. The City is also considering acquiring the old ADOT property at the “Y” and land for Creek Access/Creek Park.

    6) The A/R regarding WW fees over 120 days delinquent is $450,000. According to the Assistant City Manager, more than half is attributable to two accounts in bankruptcy. She states the City will have to write off $70,000 on one account ($90,000 is owed) as per the bankruptcy judge.

    7) The Arizona Corporation Commission’s status for the SEDONA LODGING COUNCIL, INC. is: “AD-DISSOLVED-FILE ANNUAL REPORT 04/12/2011.”

  8. Jean says:

    Please pardon me. I need to correct the $250,000 in 3) to read $250.00. Thank you.

  9. Dave says:

    What I cannot understand is how this group of elected officials continues to not act in the best interest of our community. It appalls me that I read a discussion of purchases that we don’t need because we are surrounding by forest lands which don’t cost us a nickel to acquire to secure our “borders” from development and here are conversations based on old economic growth patterns that aren’t realistic for today. How can this be? Explain it to me Councilors.

  10. Jim DeGeorge says:

    Astonishing! Many people, battered repeatedly by monsoon flooding each year due to the City’s grossly belated and politically misguided efforts on drainage, now hang financially broken and seemingly in the cross hairs of PUNITIVE CITY ASSESSMENTS, which seem AIMED TO HURT the VERY PEOPLE whom have been hurt the most each year, and have ALREADY LOST SO MUCH in bearing and without meaningful help, the FULL COSTS of each CITY NEGLECTED disaster alone. Some have lost everything, including their dreams, and are no longer here. Some are barely hanging on right now.

    The City’s idea of help has thus far been to neglect their responsibilities, and attempt to deceive the public by inferring that some how property owners are responsible for drainage issues which were precipitated by inept City actions upstream that diverted and directed flood waters right at them, and into clogged City owned drainage pipes.

    Now, if I understand the purpose of this City Council meeting, is that the City wants to EXTRACT EVEN MORE MONEY from these already FINANCIALLY BATTERED Citizens?

    John Balla elluded that there is PORK rolled into the fiscally bloated and insane Wastewater budget. If this is true, this MUST be INVESTIGATED and EXPOSED.

    As a battered flood victim, I find the City’s present TAX/SPEND Wealth extraction proposals without Conscience and an Outrage. To use the hardships they have put us through due to 20 years of informed neglect of City drainage responsibilities, as a present excuse to extract the last penny out of the victims, is the moral equivalent of FEMA charging hurricane victims a $1000 per peanut butter sandwich.

    I’d like to thank Rick for writing this article, and also the informed people whom have responded to this article with additional important and timely information that if not acted upon now, bear pivotal consequences for many of our citizens barely hanging on, and those currently asleep, unaware that the City is presently attempting to rob them of their future.

    Thank You all for Sounding the Alarm; it’s time to UNITE and competently separate fact from myth on ALL FRONTS, and bring ALL to Full Public Awareness, and more.

  11. Don says:

    @Jean

    you wrote Arizona Corporation Commission’s status for the SEDONA LODGING COUNCIL, INC. is: “AD-DISSOLVED-FILE ANNUAL REPORT 04/12/2011.”

    why does city list them on an agenda knowing it’s illegal entity? they can’t say they don’t know, you’ve told them, it’s here in the news that’s read by them, cohoots? damn sick of all this. i plan on speaking quietly to neighbors and friends to vote against the ones that spend money contrary to our best interests, if we can’t control 7 people that live in our city how can we (removed by editor) about Washington???

  12. Pete says:

    Snooze you lose Normand is worth hearing DeGeorge is right on that

  13. Tony says:

    read my lips no new taxes

  14. God of Doom and Gloom writes again

  15. 5) Only last week, on 7/23/2103, the City Council went into Executive Session to discuss negotiations, etc., re the purchase of real property located at 250 Brewer Road, Sedona. The City is also considering acquiring the old ADOT property at the “Y” and land for Creek Access/Creek Park.

    6) The A/R regarding WW fees over 120 days delinquent is $450,000. According to the Assistant City Manager, more than half is attributable to two accounts in bankruptcy. She states the City will have to write off $70,000 on one account ($90,000 is owed) as per the bankruptcy judge.

    Who else is going bankrupt? Who else has gone bankrupt? Who is teetering? Are those properties being looked at by the city and they are forcing them into bankruptcy to claim them? More information is needed Jean.

  16. Jean says:

    To Bankruptcy Judge WHAT,

    Why don’t you call up Assistant City Manager Karen Daines to request the specific information you are erroneously asking me about–then let us know what, if anything, you find out? BTW, did you watch the 7/23/2013 Council meeting? Some info might be on the video, some the City will not tell you, and some the City does not have. Surely you must know, Executive Session matters are “top secret.”

    Will you be attending the City Council meeting tomorrow (Tuesday, 3:00 p.m.)? Writing a letter to the Mayor and Council protesting their running the City of Sedona into the ground financially and otherwise?

  17. John Balla says:

    It seems as though the City has never met a tax it didn’t like. Such reductionistic thinking will almost never be able to see the real problems, let alone solve them.

    Oh. And can someone explain why we have a $2 million entitlement program for ducks, and other creatures who are not even indigenous to the area?

    Is there a websites where I can register as a DUCK? Seems like a pretty sweet deal.

  18. Time to say NO

    No to higher taxes in any form.

    No more gifts to the Chamber of Commerce.

    No to special interest deals.

    The red rocks were here BEFORE there was a City of Sedona, homes were built. People lived without the “City”.

    We can live without the “City of Sedona” now.

  19. Richard says:

    Jean has some valid points about the bankruptcies. The city will find they have a bond issue next year. They must know this and are looking at finding out sources of revenue. Like any business in this economy, the city should be finding ways to cut costs. If the economy collapses what would the city do then?

    Creative attractions and donations from our previous benefactors like the Wriggleys and Georgia Frontiere were stomped out here, (that is another story.)
    I just wish we had gotten out cultural park up and running and the concerts back.

    I say: let the city raise taxes and let the town go bankrupt, eventually the Chamber won’t get anymore money from us! The city will be devoid of any real businesses; we already see a lot of empty shops and that is NOT appealing to tourists. We will all shop in other areas like Prescott, Cottonwood and Flagstaff which most of us do now anyway.

    Tourists are traveling on a “budget” and I suspect already own enough trinkets; many eat out of Safeway. Driving around and looking at red rocks is free; we have a lot of day trippers, they take up space, create noise and pollution and spend very little; they even get gasoline out of town, since ours is so expensive.

    So what does Sedona have going for it? Natural beauty, yes, peace and quiet? NO. Peace and quiet are gone. The spiritual energy, art and nature were the draws but are now limited due to greed and mismanagement. If you planned to book a week long trip here you will most likely cancel early; Sedona has the highest rate of cancellations in the state. That means people came here and didn’t get what they wanted. Where they expecting a disco scene and a busy city? I doubt it. They wanted serenity and because there is none out in the woods, they left!

    Hey we have a mini military base in the middle of town, would you like to see and hear military helicopters and jets landing here while you are having a nature experience at Red Rock Crossing? How about a nice mountain bike ride on the best trails in the world? The trails are pretty empty to thanks to helicopter rides, everyone goes to Moab, Utah instead. More bohemian, more fun, very quiet, despite the dumpy looking town. Moab did not allow helicopters and their airport is 17 miles out of town.

    Maybe you wanted to play golf in the most beautiful place in the world? Oh what’s wrong, did the helicopters and loud airplanes disturb your concentration?

    How about some expensive real estate? I can sell you a multi-million dollar home with loud helicopters and tourists looking down into your yard all the time. What, that is not a selling feature! you are kidding? I thought traffic, noise and pollution were exciting selling features for a town like Sedona?

    Instead of Sedona going the way of the exclusive resort town of Telluride, we went the way of a cheap tourist trap, full of timeshares and an airport in the middle of town. Go ahead tax the time shares, who cares?

    The timeshares are literally running people out of town. Who let these timeshares in in the first place and how do we get rid of them? http://www.travelocity.com/hotels/ridge-on-sedona-golf-resort-sedona-az-.60883

  20. Richard says:

    I’d like to hear the real stories about the flood victims and how their lives were ruined thanks to the city mismanaging the drainage. These are stories that should be made public right here with interviews. Sedona has a habit of not caring about the people who live here, they only care about what happens at their house. My neighborhood is fine, so I do not care if you flood, are poisoned and get cancer, die, or have airport noise. Why didn’t you think of that before you moved there! That is the mantra of the people living here, I count and you do not; that attitude is reflected in the city management. As if there was any disclosure on any of the problems or dangers here, there is NO DISCLOSURE! Instead the victims get blamed and ignored not only by the city but also by other Sedona residents; there is very little compassion or caring here.

    The City should buy the homes that are uninhabitable when it floods to spare further damages to the next crop of victims. They can tear these water damaged houses down and build parks in their place.

  21. A (phonenical) quack, quack, quack. Let’s do a study on how many entitlement dollars each duck gets for every quack it utters. LOL!

  22. Sharlett says:

    Always enjoy knowing that residents become engaged in the City issues. Yet this time I’m really questioning motives of a couple of guys, and feel there is something going on that doesn’t just feel quite right.

    Simple question to both J Rick and John B…what is your true vested interest in Sedona?

  23. Liked this article on Facebook.

  24. John Balla says:

    Sharlett,

    I cannot address your sentiments of what you say “doesn’t just feel right” about me for a few reasons:

    1) I don’t know you and as such, cannot speak to your feelings;
    2) Even if I did know you, I still cannot speak to your feelings;
    3) Should you be so kind to reveal your last name, perhaps we could address each other on fair ground, but of course, that’s up to you.

    Your “simple question” I do not find so simple because there is an insinuation that I am lying about something. Please elaborate how you find my remarks so suspicious so I can respond in kind.

    But until then, anyone who lives in Sedona — by definition — has a vested interest in Sedona.

  25. Sharlett:

    What just doesn’t feel quite right is your statement “Yet this time…” You show up every time I write anything and express your sentiments based upon no facts whatsoever and no demonstrated logic, and yet you apparently think readers at this site think that you speak with the unchallenged authority of God. Well, I’ll tell you what Miss Fictitious…God has the courage to let you know who he is while you ALWAYS hide, thus underscoring the cowardice that consumes you. When are you going to get it? Nobody, but nobody, cares about your sentiments.

  26. Ellie Pittman says:

    Solid stuff on sedonaeye.com. Certainly like what you’re saying and the way through which you assert it. You’ve taken the effort to make it all at once entertaining and intelligent.

  27. Marla says:

    Why did Council accept Mirana as a legitimate model for staff? Have they been there? Of course not or they would have laughed until blue in the face when staff brought the model forward for discussion. Poor leadership seems to be escalating at a time when excellence is required. I am in agreement with many of the writer and reader points but could do less with the mud slinging. It is time for the Council to accept accountability. This is my opinion only.

  28. Paul says:

    @Richard If the economy collapses what would the city do then?

    Simple. Declare bankruptcy. Erases all responsibility. Not like the town’s going any place.

  29. Normand writes details that few want to take time to hear.

    Noticed mayor and city manager talked about you and others without naming names that showed bias and animosity for those that don’t promote their agendas without the cold hand of nepotism and backslapping that dominate this city. That’s been a problem with the paper.

    I’m not out of line saying that everyone I know reads what’s here. Donna Joy deserves a round of applause also because she represents the silent majority that you don’t want to make mad during elections.

  30. Helen says:

    Donna Joy is the only person who is not “pontificating” as she actually has real numbers and has done valid research vs unfounded wish lists of a variety of no valid sense and no clear or real ways to raise revenues!!! only other good words I’ve seen lately were about the council just “extracting wealth instead of creating it.”

  31. Jean says:

    Helen, there’s no valid way to raise revenues in today’s rotten economy except more taxes. The City of Sedona needs to live within its means, not look to General Obligation Bonds, Special Improvement Districts or a higher City sales tax to fuel its spending addiction.

  32. With reference to Palm Desert, Rick leaves out the fact that I told him I called the city manager of Palm Desert to talk about how their city manages their visitor center and tourism expenditures.

    The City Manager told me the tourism office operated by the city is a small office with brochures, etc. But he also said, and I told Rick this but he has conveniently left it out of his article, that the city of Palm desert gives $700,000 to the local marketing group that markets the area.

    I wonder why Rick left that fact out, He also glosses over the fact that Palm Desert has a property tax. I welcome input from the community but it’s helpful when we get the full story.

  33. Helen says:

    Jean, you never pontificate and i’m really sorry – to you – that I wasn’t more clear on that issue. you always give straight info that has substance and facts behind it that a lot of us rely on. again, sorry.

  34. Barbara,

    Something you conveniently failed to mention, and understand, is that Palm Desert pays that money out to the winner of a competitive bid process. Someday, maybe you’ll figure out why most all top small resort towns around the country, except Sedona and six others, have adopted competitive bidding for Destination Marketing contracts. If you don’t do this, then how can you determine what performance benchmarks should be? You’re still trying to cover for Sedona’s wretched malfeasance, aren’t you? And, that’s the real story! Not to mention, their property tax is miniscule compared to our combined sales tax…and they DON’T HAVE STANDBY SEWER CAPACITY TAXES EITHER or RDS collectors foisted upon their citizens either. Get off your high horse Barbara.

  35. Barbara,

    In my article here published on July 26, entitled “Council Won’t Address Risks Inherent in New Sales and Property Taxes,” bottom of second paragraph from the last, I discuss Palm Desert at length and clearly mentioned they have a small property tax. You’re wrong again. Nevertheless, it’s pretty hypocritical of you to make your comment here without, conveniently, as you like to often say, mentioning that Council called a special meeting on July 30 to discuss the methodology for instituting a secondary property tax regime in Sedona to secure a General Obligation Bond Issue. Cat got your tongue Councilor?

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