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Eddie Maddock: Business as Usual?

SedonaEye.com columnist Eddie S. Maddock

Sedona AZ – At a Special Sedona City Council Meeting, 3:00 –Wednesday afternoon –January 11, 2017, after three long years of a contentious destination marketing agreement with the Sedona Chamber of Commerce, the City will again revisit the issue. We can only hope the negotiations will prove to be less controversial, fairer and, in turn, result in acceptable transparency which will dismiss suspicion and mistrust of City Hall dealings. That might very well have been the case had the original commitment for Requests for Proposals (RFP’s) as well as certified outside audits been upheld as proposed during the initial negotiations. Ignoring both valid concerns was a disservice to everyone.

Five options will be discussed at this meeting as follows:

Option 1: Move forward with the negotiations of a new contract with the Chamber of Commerce.

Option 2: Issue an RFP for tourism promotion services.

Option 3: Create a stand-alone destination marketing organization (DMO) without ties to the Chamber of Commerce.

Option 4: Create a City Department to handle tourism promotion.

Option 5: Issue a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a travel industry consultancy to assess the current structure, funding relationships, etc. and provide recommendations to the city.

Pros and cons of each option will be discussed at length, such as concerns RFP’s will include bids from for-profit agencies. That brings up several questions. Without an official outside audit from a qualified source, how do they know the Chamber has not been making a profit? How many employees have they hired? What has been the cost of improvement to their own facilities, etc? And what is the source of funding for those operating expenses?

And will the City acknowledge the Chamber currently offers their own RFP’s for specific services, realistically reducing them to a mere middle-agency, acting on behalf of the City of Sedona?

And how do they justify the extended branding of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce that has occurred within the past three years? What has been the source of that promotional funding for the Chamber instead of the City?

By creating a stand-alone destination marketing organization, the City could avoid real or perceived conflicts between tourism promotion services and the various other functions of the Chamber of Commerce. Although they specify: “Unclear how local and regional partners would react,” why should that concern the City? Should their focus at long last be redirected to the residents of incorporated Sedona? They are the people who created the City in the first place, clearly, and with knowledge, it attracted tourists.

Sure, a stand-alone destination marketing organization “would result in the re-creation of an already established and successful local agency.” However the extent of success of the present local agency has never been undisputedly proven. The source of increased revenue after the great recession coupled with a reduction in gasoline prices has never factually been factored into the increased tourism and resulting upswing in revenue. Nor has it been determined to what extent advertising monies have merely resulted in excessive day-tripping, which the City’’s infrastructure clearly cannot handle.

As for the suggestion for Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a travel industry consultancy to assess and monitor the current structure, would that be nothing more than a baby sitter for the contract with the Chamber of Commerce? Should the City have been serving that function for the past three years?

It has frequently been said the City could not afford to operate their stand-alone department. And how would they know? With a Chamber of Commerce now providing funding for USFS trail maintenance, contributing money back to the City for their traffic study, and other generous, but questionably frivolous expenditures, most recently to propose purchasing property on behalf of the City with what appears to be leftover funds from the bed tax rebate, how can they make that determination without a precise and reliable audit from an authentic source? They cannot. Is there any reasonable explanation why the City should not take responsibility for allocating the bed tax revenue -– all of it – including over and above destination marketing?

And the perfect opportunity to establish a genuine Sedona Visitors Center has been ignored by not including such a service at the Western Gateway. How long will this City tolerate discrimination of their own legitimate licensed, tax collecting businesses within City Limits unless they are forced to be members of what clearly is a regional Chamber of Commerce? And the practice of paid referrals is common, but should the City be involved by financing the activity with public funds, and further discriminating against in-city businesses?

Molly Spangler

With the recent hiring of a professional, Molly Spangler, to serve as Economic Development Director, there i’s really no need to burden our busy Chamber of Commerce with more additional duties besides servicing their members, which is the purpose of their non-profit organization.

And, since when was “The Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau” deemed “the Destination Marketing & Management Organization in Sedona for 65 years”? Up until just a few years ago was it not the Oak Creek Canyon Sedona Chamber of Commerce, then changed to Sedona Chamber of Commerce, and most recently “”& Tourism Bureau”” was tacked on? This elaborate extension of creating yet another illusion that simply does not exist is pretty much over the top. Wouldn’t you agree? Dumb question.

There i’s already a campaign in motion to “Make America Great Again.” How about a local endeavor to “Make Sedona Respectable Again”? Meet and greet our visitors with an authentic Sedona Visitors Center and related advertising. Don’’t we deserve it like other places? Flagstaff (AZ) and Park City (UT) are, but two, examples that offer proof they survive very well without financial support to their respective Chambers of Commerce.

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563 Comments

  1. @Fire Chief Matt says:

    “Seems to still be a lot of very ignorant people in this town.” We will find out for sure if they vote to approve the outrageous amount of $18 million for this bond. They were ignorant when they approved the $70 mil for the high school frills & whistles – and has anything changed? Doubt it.

    VOTE NO

  2. @Fire Chief Matt says:

    Yep and it starts with those getting paid with TAXPAYERS money. faux people like @Fire Chief Matt overpaid city employees and fire district. Why don’t you all ask for a rolls royce We are Sedona! We pay for you high rollers. Disgusting IMO

    Vote NO PEOPLE!

  3. JessL says:

    As a taxpayer I find it offensive to be called “ignorant” by someone who feels entitled to my money. Would I be less ignorant in your esteemed opinion if I gave you all my money and lived under a blue tarp in the forest? I believe you feel we are stupid for giving you any of our money, so you insult us and ask for more.

    NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO

  4. FCM says:

    @Jessl… funny, you just accepted the title – you were never called out – you came forward. LMBO!

  5. Marty (Sedona) says:

    FOr the time being we beat the battle with the SFD fire board …. but …. we still have the situation with the greedy city hall bunch …. staff, council, and the real source of the problems LODGING COUNCIL & CHAMBER OF COMMERCE.

    They’re well on their way to officially rezoning the land in our subdivisions.

    They’ll NEVER be happy until they tax us out of our homes. The recent effort to play with words in the ridiculous surveys mailed and online is nothing more than another con job trying to trip us up with tongue twisting.

    Same old business as usual. Just eat all your fruits and veggies or da bogie man might git ya! Worse is city hall monsters out for blood!

    Where dem vegans? (Deleted by editor)

  6. Mary Lee says:

    Eat your fruits and veggies. RIGHT! That sounds like a pitch from Jon Thompson who would have us all bussed out to the sewer plant and work in the fields (good fertilizer out there) “pilgrims” to join hands and sing “Kumbaya, My Lord.” That will be AFTER he gets the council to approve amending the rules even more to allow them to rezone our properties without even going through the steps presently in place. And who is this “kumbaya, lord?” (and the fight begins) Pick a number, folks.

  7. Here We Go Again says:

    And how much money does the City of Sedona fork over to the Film Festival year after year?
    And where is it a Masked Gala will be held on November 19 to benefit the Sedona Film Festival?
    WTF It will be held at Enchantment Resort OUTSIDE City. IT WILL NOT CONTRIBUTE A CENT to city tax revenue!!!

    NO BS about trickle down benefits yada, yada, yada, blah, blah, blah. The main event is the main event and any subsequent squandering of money by attendees will be just that. CONSIDER THE AMOUNT LOST IN SALES & BED TAX BY NOT HAVING IT AT IN CITY RESORT!!!!!

    BAD DEAL, business as usual & let’s bet SS not happy he was given the finger & snubbed?

  8. Back at.....Here we go again says:

    Aren’t you getting tired of complaining about all things Sedona????

    So let me get this straight; you’re bitching that the Film Festival is hosting it’s Masked Gala outside at enchantment? Well if you knew everything about Sedona then you would know that Sedona doesn’t have a ball room big enough to host an amazing party that big.

    Now if our elected officials would allow for the building of a convention center at the cultural park then I’m sure that the Film Festival would be happy to host their future events in the city.

    But, I’m betting that you already knew the answer but you’d rather “stir the pot’ with nonsense.

  9. Business as Usual - NOT!!! says:

    Wasn’t it just a few years ago the idea of a Christmas oops Holiday laser light show projected onto the red rocks uptown was widely opposed by Keep Sedona Beautiful mostly?

    Well guess what? Dec 14 to 17 3D art will be projected onto Camelhead Rock uptown, located next to the well identified Snoopy Rock formation in attempt to turn our natural landscaping into a projection screen to be seen miles away!! And how will our wild life react to this?? How will residents?

    And how did this outrageous display slip by the public opinion process and how much will it cost??

    Sneaky buzzards – the millions the Chamber has in their bank account is how. Generally at public meetings the discussion of how the money (even more) given to the Chamber of Commerce for Christmas decoration will be spent is made known. NO MORE!

    Ever seen the reaction of a deer to headlights? What will happen when this penetrating light fiasco invades their own habitat??

    SHAMEFUL!!

  10. LIGHT SHOW FIASCO says:

    More than just KSB objected to the stoopid idea of lights blasting on the red rocks. Is this disgusting proposal to exploit and degrade the beauty of the red rocks any less obscene than showing pornographic videos or movies to our children? What’s wrong with you people???????? Practically the entire population was up in arms when this idiotic idea popped up after the Chamber failed so miserably at their crumby display (Holiday Central?) up at the Posse Grounds and last year at Los Abrigados!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Anyone with any brains will Boycott !!!!!! the indecency of this invasive intrusion to the wildlife and red rocks as they represent the only REAL scenic attraction Sedona has to offer. Pox on all of you who so brazenlymove forward with such disgrace. Bad Karma !!!!!!!!!!!!! You money grabbers SUCK !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Trash loves trash says:

    most people raised w/o parents with class reflect it in their lifelong decision making

    fact is, you’re trash

    light shows are the chuck e. cheese universe, the Disney universe, not the educated and eco-knowledgeable universe

  12. Not a Woo Woo says:

    Give it a rest already you Woo Woo’s are against everything.

  13. SS BS says:

    Look around at the changes since the city gave away millions to the regional chamber. It has cheapen sedona. Taken it from a world class to a LL socialist crappy place. cheap cheap they want you to pay more so ss bs can play more.

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