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Eye on Sedona Taxation and Representation

SedonaEye.com columnist, Eddie S. Maddock asks the balance question

SedonaEye.com columnist, Eddie S. Maddock asks the powers that be to answer whether the Chamber of Commerce advertising is solely responsible for Sedona tourists

Sedona AZ (July 4, 2013) – In an appropriate column for the celebration of Independence Day, SedonaEye.com columnist, Eddie S. Maddock, asks “Where is the balance, Sedona?” in her Eye on Sedona column:

Question? Does anyone know of anyone who heard of Sedona strictly because of the efforts of the Chamber of Commerce?

As has been widely publicized recently, the Sedona Chamber of Commerce and the Sedona Lodging Council have been lobbying extensively for a favorable outcome which, in the very near future, the Sedona City Council will be making a decision regarding sales tax and bed tax increases.

In myriads of publicity it’s been well publicized that both groups are proposing to increase city sales tax by .5% AND to increase the bed tax by .5% for the purpose of dedicating 45% of the TOTAL bed tax collections to be allocated to the “City’s Official Destination Marketing Organization” (under contract with the Chamber of Commerce) for marketing, 15% dedicated to visitor center management and 20% be allocated for tourism product development for as long as such tax is in place.

Furthermore, a suggested portion of funds generated from the .5% sales tax should be allocated at the city’s discretion for priority capital improvement projects, all of which has become old news due to the ongoing beating of the drum, for example:

  •  “Chamber struggles for funding”
  • “Workshops: Chamber & hotels ask city to raise tax”
  • “Chamber needs funding increase to market Sedona to more tourists”no new taxes

The effort behind this writing isn’t intended to disparage the missions of the C of C or the Lodging Council. Nor is it meant to expound on merits or detriments of “Destination Marketing.” The purpose, simply stated, is an opportunity to point out that until now there hasn’t been an apparent recourse to express concerns of those who are opposed to the proposals of the two groups.

For those businesses who have been besieged with written material and encouraged to sign in agreement with the terms of the C of C and Lodging Council, individual citizens and tourists who have been targeted relating to “everyone will benefit from these increased taxes,” and most recently door-to-door solicitations by chamber representatives alleging that “without the Chamber of Commerce no one would even know about Sedona,” and that the “Chamber of Commerce is responsible for generating each and every cent of sales tax revenue within Sedona City Limits” (yep, you read that correctly) take heart.

Currently there is available a petition for you to sign.

It states:

IF YOU FEEL THE SALES TAX IS TOO HIGH AT 10.35% YAVAPAI COUNTY AND 10.725% IN COCONINO COUNTY PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION. YOU ALSO AGREE THAT THE RATE EFFECTS YOUR SPENDING HERE IN SEDONA. 

This petition is presently available at SEDONA’S MEXIDONA, 1570 S. Hwy 89A, west Sedona.

Like the Boston Tea Party, Sedona citizens are questioning the Chamber of Commerce support of increased taxes without transparency of return on past expenditures

Like the Boston Tea Partiers, Sedona Taxpayers are questioning the Chamber of Commerce request for increased taxes without Chamber transparency of return on past expenditures

Some people may not be aware that the approximately $40,000 recently spent by the Lodging Council to hire a consultant to advise them on destination marketing protocol in other areas included comparisons with metropolitan areas such as Napa and Santa Barbara, CA and Scottsdale, AZ. Population estimates for those three cities are: Napa 76,915 (2010); Santa Barbara 89,000 (2011); Scottsdale 221,789 (2013).

In comparison to Sedona’s current approximate 10,000 according to most recent poll (down 1,000 from the previous ten year count) gives cause to wonder the commonality in this peculiar citation of comparisons. (Does anyone give thought that perhaps the $40,000 would have been better spent on direct advertising of their own by the Lodging Council?)

Other questions have arisen as to the wisdom of city taxes (public funds regardless of who takes credit for the collection) being spent on clearly special interest groups regardless of an invisible divider delineating City’s Official Destination Marketing Organization, headquartered by contract under the umbrella of the Chamber of Commerce.

Such a deal obviously and justifiably leads to questions of conflict of interest, especially when many of the Chamber members are located outside city limits and therefore do not contribute to the city’s tax base or bed tax as the case may be. Add on top of that the Chamber’s On-Line Retail Store which is indefinable as ultimately competing with many products of member-businesses whose dues should be to benefit those businesses and not as competition.

Also videos of Sedona are offered for purchase in the Chamber’s Store. That becomes even more curious considering that one of the projections for enhanced funding would allegedly enable the Sedona Chamber of Commerce to procure appropriate software to enable their own video productions.

Curious, too, are online coupons:  The ‘2013 SuperPass for $8′ on the page “Shop Sedona Local Deals & Coupons” has a long list of participants which include (to mention a Few):

Dairy Queen (Oak Creek Canyon)
Manzanita Restaurant (Cornville)
M Diamond Ranch (Lake Montezuma)
Oak Creek Vineyard and Winery (Cornville)
Grand Canyon Dinner Theatre & Steakhouse (Tusayan)

Translated: Sedona City Tax revenue is blatantly being dispersed via advertising to benefit legitimate Chamber members. This, of course, also stands true of lodging facilities outside city limits who are spared paying the double whammy:  bed AND sales taxes, increased or not.

WHAT ABOUT CITY BUSINESSES THAT PREFER TO NOT BELONG TO THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE? WHERE’S THEIR FAIR AND LEGITIMATE REBATE ON THE TAXES THEY . . . YES, THEY (AND NOT THE C OF C) ARE COLLECTING ON A DAILY BASIS?

One other issue has specifically been pointed out, along with a request that it be included in this report, that what isn’t being considered…is the half percent would not only increase prices on things we all purchase…but for Chamber members renting commercial properties it will drastically increase already high rents!  Just suppose you pay $6 sq.ft. per month or $72 sq.ft. per year…you rent 3,000 sq.ft. so your rent is presently $216,000 annually…add another .5% to that and it goes up $10,800! This is a direct cost to any business owner renting their space.

And the Chamber of Commerce and Lodging Council think businesses should jump on the band wagon and support this tax increase?

The Chamber of Commerce has yet to substantiate a comprehensive return on the money it presently receives from the city. If Destination Marketing is as viable as some think, clearly it should be removed from the shadows of the local C of C operation and be transported in a transparent vehicle willing to serve with honor by traveling with the top down.

REMINDER:

A petition to object to proposed taxes is available at SEDONA’S MEXIDONA, 1570 S. Hwy 89. The petition is solely for the purpose of collecting names of individuals . . . residents, tourists, businesses, etc. in order to reflect a cursory count of opposition to increased taxes. It is not intended to be used for legal recourse.

The drums continue to beat, and, as the saying goes “It ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings” and that might very well occur during a City Council meeting later this month.

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!

37 Comments

  1. Donna Joy says:

    Wow thank you for bringing this to everyone’s attention. I am confused and a member of the Sedona Chamber. I pay for their services- advertisements. How much money does the Chamber get from the City? Really confused because the Sedona Chamber is open to anyone to join, not just city of Sedona based businesses. Really like to know the amount. Thanks

  2. @Donna Joy.

    At the council meeting on May 28th Jennifer Wesselhoff, President/CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, gave an accounting of city funding as $220,000 for destination marketing not including the additional $100,000 “discretionary fund” Budget Line Item earmarked also for destination marketing. C of C also receives $275,000 for visitors’ services. She (Jennifer) reiterated it was the “discretionary fund” line item which they came back to claim that evening, $80,000 of which was awarded to the C of C and the other $20,000 approved for the Sedona Arts & Culture Collaborative (SACC) for their own destination marketing. Total to Chamber of Commerce: $595,000

    (Let it be noted that in an article dated 5/24/13, Sedona Red Rock News “Chamber Needs Funding Increase to Market Sedona to more Tourists” Michelle Conway, director of Marketing at the Sedona Chamber of Commerce, cited the contract with the city for Destination Marketing was $225,000 per year reflecting total city funding at $600,000, a discrepancy of Ms. Wesselhoff’s accounting.)

    Ms. Conway further explained in her article that the Chamber’s total budget collectively of approximately $500,000 (not including the $100,000 discretionary fund) “includes operational expenses, salaries and administration, in addition to the actual execution of promoting.”

    When Councilman John Martinez asked Ms. Wesselhoff directly how much of the $220,000 (destination marketing funds) was used for salaries, she explained that “none of the public money goes to operate any functions of the Chamber of Commerce.” She claimed her salary is solely derived from C of C membership dues contradicting Michelle Conway’s recap of the collective allocation of the total funds.

    So, to answer your question, it appears Sedona Chamber of Commerce received, last year, from the City of Sedona somewhere between $595,000 and $600,000 according to the information I have before me. How those funds are disbursed appears to depend on who is doing the explaining.

  3. Warren says:

    “Does anyone know of anyone who heard of Sedona strictly because of the efforts of the Chamber of Commerce?”

    Eddie, to answer your question, I know of no one. Speaking for my wife & I, COC marketing efforts had absolutely nothing to do with our decision to move here. Additionally, had I known about those efforts being government subsidized they would have been a red flag. Coming from Maui we were very well aware of the corruption and waste inherent in the similar Maui Visitors Bureau.

  4. Dana Varney says:

    Liked this article on Facebook.

  5. Henrietta says:

    Does anyone know what Jennifer Wesselhoff’s annual salary is?

    The Chamber seemingly wants to spend waay too much money promoting “itself”. They seem to be acting rather grandiose and should be supporting their members, some of which are non-profits that are providing real services to the city of Sedona and “doing the right thing”.

    Higher taxes in this small community will “BACKFIRE” and could create a backlash from the tourtists they are trying to attract.

  6. Ron Maassen says:

    The info that follows is intended to answer some of the earlier questions.

    The following is information taken from the 2011 IRS form 990 filed by the Sedona Chamber of Commerce, Inc. (2011 is the latest available) The return was submitted 22 Aug 2012.

    Gross receipts are reported as $1,346,769.

    The return was prepared by Richard O. Cranmer of Cottonwood, AZ.

    Jennifer Wesselhoff’s reportable compensation is stated as 80,639 (Part VII (D)) and other compensation is 6,253 (Part VII (F)).

    Membership dues are reported as $377,819.
    Contracts from Gov Agencies are reported as $539,104.
    Royalty Income is reported as $39,078.
    There are other income items reported.

    From Part IX –Compensation
    line 5 86,892 (officers, directors, trustees, and key employees) matches the above compensation for Jennifer Wesselhoff.
    line 7 376, 603 (other salaries and wages)

    pension (line 8) 6,290 (Part IX line 8)
    other employee benefits 51,287 (Part IX line 9)
    payroll taxes 38,566 (Part IX line 10)

    If my math is correct that is 559,638 for employment related costs.

    Other line items of interest are:

    advertizing and promotion: 322,577 (Part IX line 12)
    office expenses 66,248 (Part IX line 13)
    information technology 7,907 (Part IX line 14)
    travel 18,813 (Part IX line 17)
    conferences 14,071 (Part IX line 19)

    From the Balance Sheet
    Total assets for 2011 increased from 1,012,115 to 1,171,221. (Part X, line 16)
    Total liabilities for 2011 increased from 684,236 to 833,242 (Part X, line 26
    Cash-non interest bearing increased from 113,279 to 199,937. Part X. line 1)
    Accounts receivable increased from 17,308 to 62,471. (Part X, line 4)
    Net assets or fund balance at the end of the year totaled 337,979. Part X, line 33)

    Land building and equipment less accumulated depreciations are listed with book value of 749,826. (Part X, line 10b)

    Any questions?

    Perhaps the Chamber should disclose their most current return when requesting taxpayer funding. It appears that some 27% of expenses are directed to advertizing and marketing. (322,577 over 1,187,093).

    Would you donate to a 501 (c) organization with such effectiveness?

    Should the taxpayer??

  7. N. Baer says:

    Thanks Eddie for pointing out the imbalance of the situation between the City and the CofC.

    But, this is what really confuses me is I thought that when you had a job as a marketer in a place that people like to visit because of its beauty, the type of marketing you would do would be “destination marketing.” In fact, when I worked for a local timeshare resort’s marketing director, marketing to attract weddings, anniversaries, etc. was done as a matter of course.

  8. LBD says:

    Not changing the subject to the above article…I will make my point by adding another side to the same subject.

    Don’t I recall that our great annual 20+ year’s Festival of the Lights at Los Abrigados (aka Diamond Resorts) has been canceled for this December because their Property Owners could no longer subsidize the expense?

    Yet, I’m now watching a TV show on KPHO 5 out of Phx called “Undercover Boss” and guess who it is all about? The International Company called Diamond Resorts! Looks to me that they are very flush with major profits!

    While watching, I suddenly remembered seeing an ad in the Red Rock News for the July 4th “Free Concert & Laser Light Show” where there were only two Sponsors. Guess who? City of Sedona, who wants to raise our Sales taxes and Bed taxes in order to give the Chamber more money (yet they, Chamber, didn’t do anything to sponsor the Free Laser Light Show), and the great Diamond Resorts International who is not able to afford an event that brings revenue and applause to them plus a lot of room sales, and many other business’s for the month of December – in favor of a small Laser show in July. Crazy trade off!

    So, Finally, my point is – didn’t I read, by one of the Sedona eye commenters, someplace along the line, the “prediction” that Diamond Resorts International will be coming back to the City asking for financial support to continue the Festival of Lights? Also, am I incorrect that the Chamber has stated they are also looking for financial partners to continue the Festival of Lights tradition???

    Wow! Let me see if I can still add: City + Diamond Resorts = 2. City + Chamber + Diamond Resorts = 3. Only missing link to get to #4 is the Lodging Council….oh, hold on —–think I hear them galloping down the street to the $$$ trough at the expense of their guests (pun intended!)

    Nuff said.

  9. Ricky says:

    Hey – I checked out the chambers on line retail store and they don’t charge any sales tax but they want everyone else in retail to charge more taxes? That just is flipping wrong!

    Have they ever gone through a full audit the city and citizens have been allowed to see or is that another not disclosed aspect of them? are they a 501.c3 or just what is their structure? this is all too flipping crazy!

    This is just all nuts! where will sanity come from? starts to look like the citizens should have another go at public vote to help “educate” the council.

  10. Warren says:

    The COC’s income tax return was prepared by Richard O. Cranmer of Cottonwood, AZ?

    What happened to “Shop Sedona”?

  11. Big Deal says:

    so only 27% of chamber expenses are directed to advertising and marketing. what’s the big deal? in a convoluted sort of way is that any worse than the whatever-per-cent of city budget is being frittered away to make improvements(?) at the sewer plant? what will be the return to the city on that “investment?” and, let’s face it, same as so many chamber members that sewer land is outside city limits.

  12. Sandra D. says:

    Reply to Warren. Probably Richard Cranmer of Cottonwood is a member of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce which at one time was known as the Sedona Oak Creek Chamber of Commerce. Hmm, wonder when the name changed. also wonder why it isn’t changed to C of C State of arizona, all are welcome to join. Anyhow, Shop Sedona is an example of do as we say and not as we do.

  13. Tony says:

    I’ve live here for 20 plus years, and I don”t want MORE tourists. The traffic and litter they cause make Sedona a LESS pleasant place to live. If the traffic and taxes were like this when I first came I would not have moved here. I am considering leaving despite the beauty of the rocks.

    I want you to remember also that Sedona Fire Department is paid for through your property taxes and does not receive a cent from the “City of Sedona”.

    Sedona should be run for the citizens, not a few tourist businesses.

  14. Ricky says:

    To Ron Maassen: Thank YOU!

    Finally some sustainable numbers regarding the Chamber! thank you very, very much. Oh Yes I have questions, as should everyone else. where do we all go to see what you found? Az Corp Com or ???

    how many employees does it take to spend $560k in employment costs?

    In looking through your numbers have a couple questions: Income vs. expenses you showed – is where I seem to be missing some $20k net figure. I did add up all expenses and took off income and came up with $357,459.00 difference to the positive. then I looked at “net assets/fund balance” and took off $337,979.00 and can’t find $20k. can you help me? is that $20K “other income” and if so where is it coming from? what is income from royalties? and where do they get to charge royalties?

    lastly; who ever, in their right mind, heard of anyone having a “cash non- interest bearing account of $199,937.00 (Part X, line 1)????? that doesn’t seem like they are getting any good financial advise or, OR are they that much in need of that huge amount of ready cash?

    I am in full agreement that the chamber has had enough time to produce their 2012 tax returns to the council.

    Isn’t the biggest problem that the Holy Council (except for one) never feels the need to request/demand accountability? OMG!

    actually I think the most egregious and telling thing is that chamber spent $32,884.00 on travel and conferences (lines 17 & 19).

    No wonder they and their clone of the lodging council want a tax increase.

    lastly: in reading a comment from N Baer: first off – I would never acknowledge I’d worked for a time share, in this town, as they are the lack of bed tax Bain of our missing monies – that said – call me crazy, but isn’t the responsibility of any business to stand on their own two feet with their own budgets and ad campaign costs and not fold back into the shadows expecting “someone else” (the chamber of commerce) to pave their way to their bank accounts? No offenses intended – just think this entire relationship between the chamber and council needs to slow down and regroup!

    don’t I recall that treasured antique shop on Brewer/Range rd. having flooded a couple times as a result of the City having their ideals too close to a no fix position because they had grander wish lists the council members fought to have met? ?

  15. Didya Know says:

    The City Council has the option of putting City sales tax increases, if any, on the ballot?

    Having the electorate vote in higher sales taxes, not the Council, should be a City policy.

  16. So, Wesselhoff’s salary is $86,892. What about Travel = $18,813? Then there’s Conferences = $14,071. Tack those two items onto the “reported” salary and it’s $119,776, gaining ground to justify the rumored $125,000 she is being paid annually. (which possibly would be more accurately reflected in the 2012 tax return)

    And oh yes, let us not overlook Other Employee Benefits = $51,287. Makes one wonder just how many “employees” does this non-profit 501(c) organization slice that pie to accommodate and for what specific purpose?

    All this big business in a meager town of barely 10,000 people? But, of course, as has been pointed out it’s only the City of Sedona being asked for a 60% return of the total bed tax collections for destination marketing and 20% allocated for tourism product development. What a “sweetheart deal” for those businesses outside Sedona City Limits.

    As for the comment by N. Baer, just where in Maddock’s article does she disagree with the concept of destination marketing? As I read it it’s only the lack of transparency with the contract being with the COC which is being questioned. Check out the third paragraph from the bottom suggesting a different arrangement be made for contracting destination marketing as in “removed from the shadow of the COC.”

    As for promoting Sedona for weddings, that’s already been in motion for several years now. Wedding fairs here have already become an annual event thru the efforts of local businesses sans assistance from COC and/or City funding. Came close to passing out when watching the council meeting and Wesselhoff present her (ahem) “new” concept for promoting weddings. Then adding insult to injury it’s quite possible even her figures were snatched from those already successful in that area of marketing (of course Wesselhoff’s competition didn’t have advantage of presenting her own wedding photos before the city council since the competition has never gone begging.)

    Internet sites for Sedona weddings have been alive and well for a number of years. Mr. Google can easily confirm that as perhaps the COC is well aware. Nothing like capitalizing on their own members’ ideas to sustain the elevated quality of life to which they’ve become accustomed.

    None of this passes the smell test. It’s sick, sad and time for the merry-go-round to come to a halt.

    Sedona Oak Creek Canyon Chamber of Commerce (or whatever you are): Jump off the cross. Legitimate city business tax collectors and patrons paying the price of your greed need the wood.

  17. Civics 101 says:

    To: “Didya Know” and everyone else; I’ve researched your questions -here’s answers, from a legal standpoint; am sure the City Attorney will confirm.

    Civics 101: Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) take precedence on all “legislative” State issues. State has first dibs on legislative power. Then they give Cities and Towns Legislative powers that are well defined. So, Sedona’s Council is the Legislative body for the city of Sedona, giving them certain Legislative powers/rights.

    Here is your answer: (This is not all doom and gloom, so keep reading)

    City Council cannot allow, per ARS, the citizens to vote on any increase in the TPT (Transactional Privilege Tax – meaning Sales Tax, Bed Tax, food tax) prior to a Council vote, as expressly defined by ARS. That issue is left only for the Legislative body – aka, a City Council.

    While some issues make logical sense, others do not. There is a very limited area of tax issues where citizens can have a public vote and preempt a Councils desire and those are Property Taxes. (So now we know they can’t drop those on us without a public vote).

    Now, we go from doom and gloom to a ray of light and citizen’s rights. There is a legal way, approved by ARS, to overturn a council’s Legislative vote to increase sales and bed taxes or food taxes.
    .
    The concept of citizens having a say on a Council Legislative vote (in order to be heard) is allowed by ARS. It is called a Referendum. A Referendum on any type of sales tax increased rate can happen, but only after the Council has taken their Legislative action. In other words – After the Council has voted on a Sales Tax Increase (be it retail or food or bed taxes)!

    A “Referendum” means that petitions will need to be crafted with the correct legal language to over turn the Councils action. Sufficient numbers of signatures will need to be gathered….some 1200 to qualify the public’s want/right to have a vote. There are several legal hoops to jump through in order to get the Referendum on a public Ballot for a Public Vote. And that, my friends, is the goal!

    A few years ago our citizens decided to put forward an Initiative and Referendum based upon the Council’s vote on owning 89A. Reason citizens could do both was because that legislative action taken by Sedona’s council did not concern any tax issues. Those gutsy actions, by the citizens, caused a complete reversal of a council’s vote. If it can happen once – my take is it can happen twice.

    Class over. Let’s all get involved and let this council and chamber and lodging group know that We are not willing to have their lack of money shoved down our throats! Financial responsibility is what we all know about!. We do balance our personal checkbooks and accounts and then come up with a realistic budget! ( instead of us riding on the backs of anyone else). The city’s budget needs to stop taking away from all their more important needs of basic requirements (also defined by ARS) and let the Chamber/Lodging groups just get real and stop begging!

  18. Didya Know says:

    Civics 101,

    Didya watch the March 14, 2013 Council meeting wherein the Mayor and Councilors first considered the sales and bed tax increases? The City Attorney informed them before the vote was taken that they had the option of putting the proposed .5% City sales tax increase before the voters. Their reaction? Laughter.

    The City Council voted to move forward with both sales and bed tax increases at that time. The City Manager named these The Wesselhoff Tax. Two weeks later the vote was pulled.

  19. Ron Maassen says:

    Ricky and others:

    I did not enter all of the available data. To view the 2011 990 do the following:

    Directions to Sedona Chamber of Commerce IRS Form 990

    Go to guidestar.org
    Search for Sedona Chamber of Commerce
    Choose Sedona
    Click on Sedona Chamber of Commerce
    Click on sign in or create an account
    Create an account
    View 990s for 3 previous years

    There is no fee for this level of access.

    Note that 2011 was not filed until August of 2012. They have probably, once again, requested an extension.

  20. Big Deal says:

    need anyone question my skepticism about city politics? discrepancy w/”Didya Know” and “Civics 101” is cause for me to think the Chamber of Corruption is on the right track. Which information is the real deal? can the tax increase go to voters or not? Will “Civics 101” step up to bat and either justify the lengthy disertation or admit inaccuracy? thanks to Ron Maassen for being a real person with the real deal and maintaing some credit to this “eye”site.

  21. Ricky says:

    I’m doubling back and going to read all available IRS Returns and thanks for letting me know how to do it. Will get back to you.

    In a quick review I think I saw 27 employees? yowsier!

  22. Civics 101 says:

    To “Didya Know”: You correctly called me on a huge mistake I made because I did not do enough research. Thank YOU. I sent some incorrect information. My mia coppa’s and apologies to all. Now I send corrected information.

    I missed the following: “ARS 42-6006 Municipal elections on tax issues” which says “A city or town may submit any issue relating to a transaction privilege tax, sales, use, franchise or other similar tax or fee, however denominated, to the qualified electors of the city or town at any regular or special municipal election…etc.”.

    Translation is: our City can either step up, become real partners with our citizenry, and ask what we, the tax paying citizens and business owners want —– by means of a public vote at a special election – OR they can continue along their merry 7 dwarfs pathway of just making us pay for their wish lists and only, amongst themselves, vote in any new crazy tax they want (except for a property tax) and at any % rate!

    Our only recourse is same as what we pulled off when we voted against the council and took their vote to own 89A away from them….lengthy process but very doable.

    The city council, chamber and lodging council, can continue their dizzy forward motions and remain ignorant, and out of touch with what the majority of our community wants. They all find it acceptable to charge us for their needs and assume that we will pay. Time they all come to grips with the entire situation!

    They, city council, need to come clean with the reality that their next series of meetings (late in July) are dealing with “Property Tax” (and how do they get it from us) and “Special Districts” (and how do they get those taxes from us?).
    Those last new taxes I’ve mentioned are all to pay for the major drainage issues they have not fully committed to on a financial basis in any current budget…they talk a good whisper, yet their job is not done.
    As they deal with all their “fluff” having nothing to do with the basic issues of our crazy little town…. I’m thinking council owes us and should be providing better services….instead of bird parks and benches and unaccountable new funding for destination marketing, etc… and all the other ethereal dreams they keep talking about. Go for it council and chamber and lodging – but not on our taxpayer backs.

    Raising all our taxes and then adding property taxes – and on top of that they want Special District Taxes???? It is enough to choke an elephant! …actually a herd of elephants!

    Now we have correct information – what do we want to do with it?

  23. Civics 101, thank you for setting the record straight.

    Now that plans are set to discuss even more ways to tax us all, it might be a good time to call for an accounting of just how much money has been wasted on non essential pleasures(?) such as the duck pond picnic land (at what return to the city?) and really, unnecessary art work.

    While these things are pleasant to some (and no, I’m not against art work) it just seems silly that the thousands of $$$$ continue to be spent by city to buy such luxuries which are likely to end up stuck in flooded intersections, etc.

    Why wasn’t the drainage corrected long ago before money was inappropriately spend on non-critical items. As you conclude, Civics 101, what do we want to do with this information? Where do we go from here? If this tax vote comes to the public do you suppose it will include the options of “None of the above” and maybe even, “Cut the pork?”

    Wishful Thinking

  24. Civics 101 says:

    Isn’t the easiest and most prudent/educated answer to cut the Pork?

    Oh, a new concept that may take too many council members out of their game. You ask: what is their game? Easy answer: very personal grandeur on their parts; personal egos; lack of spending their own money and last but not least – their position of carving out a ton of expediters that do NOT improve our quality of life.!

  25. How Quickly They Forget says:

    Good question (source – http://sedonaeye.com/eye-on-sedona-city-council-july-meetings/ )

    “Watching the council meeting last Tuesday (July 23) I listened intently to John Martinez accurately relate sales tax money was promised to be the source of funding for the sewer when the decision to incorporate was on the table. He was absolutely correct. When and under what circumstances did that idea go astray?”…

    OK Councilor Martinez —- put the money back where your own words admitted it belongs!

  26. Steve segner says:

    You asked the question, RE:sewer funding, City councils don’t make promises, each new city Council can change any past council actions or ordinances,that’s what’s happened, new city Councils have more current information Then councils 30 years ago, city councils and city governments cannot make promises.
    Each new council must react to the needs of the time not from campaign promises 30 years ago
    Hope that answers your question

  27. @Steve segner says:

    Excuse me but was that question directed to you, Mr. Segner? As I read it the question was for John Martinez, ELECTED to the Sedona City Council and now designated Vice Mayor by appointment of Council. What authority do YOU have to represent yourself as a spokesperson for ANYONE at City Hall? (Council and/or Staff) Just what is going on behind closed doors that has enabled you to have so much power and control, Mr. Non-Democracy? Kindly provide credentials that prove you are a legitimate agent for John Martinez and qualified to answer questions on his behalf. Thank you.

  28. Jim says:

    @SS Yeah that answers my question. In my opinion you are full of (deleted by editor). No ethics. Is what it’s all about. In my opinion your word means nothing.

  29. Steve segner says:

    Jim take a moment just answer one question in my statement correct ?
    you blaster you get upset you use profanity but you don’t counter anything I say .

  30. Don't Forget says:

    It is fraudulent to promise sales tax money as a source of sewer funding so as to persuade the electorate to vote for City incorporation/bonded indebtedness and then renege later on.

    SS is incorrect, anti-resident, a money-grubbing nitwit who spews BS, and lacks motivation to make Sedona better. The town is slowly being destroyed.

  31. Mary Lou says:

    This is truly disgusting. Maybe the biggest question still remains unanswered. Who/what is the biggest blight on Sedona? Steve Segner, Chamber of Commerce, City Council or City Staff? Maybe the best answer would be all of the above. Since the majority no longer have a voice (also an offering from Segner) we don’t enter the equation.

  32. Jim says:

    @SS That is because you speak with a forked head. That means your elevator doesn’t go all the way up.Your staements do not deserve to even be answered. You have one agenda. We all know what that is.

  33. West Sedona Resident says:

    Fraudulent indeed! I agree with @Don’t Forget “It is fraudulent to promise sales tax money as a source of sewer funding so as to persuade the electorate to vote for City incorporation/bonded indebtedness and then renege later on.
    SS is incorrect, anti-resident, a money (deleted by editor)nitwit who spews BS, and lacks motivation to make Sedona better. The town is slowly being destroyed.”

    @Jim forked head :) :) right on!!!

  34. Ginger says:

    Just reading above article from July 2013 and comments, things in Sedona continue to go from bad to worse. And to think the Segner character seems to be the center focus and he doesn’t even live in Sedona? Why would any body outside Sedona want such control? Same as us in Camp Verde? Huh?!$@! maybe financial gain might be on or under the table there, but whose even got those kind of thoughts?

    Good comments by Civics 101.

  35. Wsr says:

    @@west sedona resident
    @ginger

    Way to go crazy lady….the one who posts 10-15 times a day using different names….now you hijacking names as well crazy lady…

    Good for you…..a wise use of you time….keep on spinning crazy lady….yea

  36. The Real Deal says:

    Check it out:

    “By Jove this MUST be the answer. WSR translated — Wallowing in Self Repulsion. What else could it mean?”

  37. Zach says:

    Narcissistic personality disorder
    A person with narcissistic personality disorder swings between seeing themselves as special and fearing they are worthless. They may act as if they have an inflated sense of their own importance and show an intense need for other people to look up to them.
    Other symptoms include:
    exaggerating their own achievements and abilities
    thinking they are entitled to be treated better than other people
    exploiting other people for their own personal gain
    lacking empathy for other people’s weaknesses
    looking down on people they feel are “beneath” them, while feeling deeply envious of people they see as being “above” them
    http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Personality-disorder/Pages/symptoms.aspx

    How do you vote?

    Pretty clear who they are. Just watch the city political control. Their speeeciiaaallll. Gifts from taxpayers.

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