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Sedona Residents Not Tourists Pay Majority Tax Revenue

Sedona AZ (June 11, 2013) – In a letter to the SedonaEye.com editor, Sedona resident Henry Twombly writes:

The City continues to mismanage our funds.

Sedona’s bond rating has been downgraded twice under our current mayor from A++ to A-. The Council has reneged on the original promise of subsidizing the waste-water plant by 46%, and next month will raise WW fees for the fourth time.Money downgrade

Since these fees are a surrogate property tax for the 60% of us who are hooked up/in to this fiasco, why are the other 40% off the hook? Moreover it plans to wrongfully shift monies from the restricted WW Enterprise Fund to the General Fund, so they can grow the city and enrich special interests.

The Council has been so fiscally irresponsible that the City will have no funds left for capital projects after next year. Instead of paying down our debt, it’s spending $8.3m more and thus saving $7.3m less this year than last. It’s even considering saddling us taxpayers with General Obligation bonds.

In addition, the Lodging Council has officially proposed the City increase the sales tax 0.5% and the bed tax 0.5% and then give most of these proceeds to the Chamber of Commerce.

money downgrade 2The argument that this is a win-win for everybody is totally false. The Chamber has long argued that taxes on tourists provide as much as 90% of the City’s revenues. A recent Budget Oversight Committee study discovered that taxes and fees received from residents (55%) are a greater percentage than from tourists (45%).

Compared to other cities, the Chamber receives a disproportionate amount of funds ($550,000 for our 10,000 population, when only $2.1m for Santa Fe’s 68,000 and $5.5m for Scottsdale’s 217,000).

Why is the Council willing to lavish funds on the Chamber and simultaneously put local enterprises like Bodacious Burgers and Studio Live out of business with exorbitant WW fees?

Henry Twombly
Sedona, AZ
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!


  1. Jean says:

    Our big-spending City Council has allocated $350,000 in its FY 2013/14 Budget for the Chamber to pursue destination marketing. Not to mention the Council awarded $80,000 to the Chamber for this purpose last May. Plus an additional $100,000 has been set aside for a product development project/ proposal to increase revenue generation from tourism that is available to the Chamber and others.

    Many cities do not provide financial support to their Chamber of Commerce. Ours does when only 1/3 of Sedona businesses are members.

  2. Not So Fast says:

    agree it isn’t fair to add tax burden via sewer fees but do not blame those of us not connected. NOT OUR FAULT!! had the city followed the original plan to connect existing properties prior to letting new development use up capacity, we would ALL be in the same boat (maybe) but to say we’ve been let off the hook isn’t fair. many of us prepaid for connections and are still waiting and are not responsible for high monthly rate.

  3. Marty L. says:

    Likewise I do not know why you are accusing those of us who were scrapped from sewer connections as being “off the hook.” Please keep in mind, sir, that when and if ADEQ comes in and demands for the city to complete sewer service to all areas, how much do you anticipate that will then cost those of us?

    It’s very possible the monthly rates about which you complain will pale in comparison to what will be forced upon us in the future. To my recollection it was around $8,000 for Chapel area connections. Did you pay that much?

    Unlike you I sympathize with your predicament at how the city is gouging you with increased monthly fees. Wish you would return the favor and not blame those of us who have been left dangling.

  4. Jean says:

    In addition to WW fees skyrocketing on an annual basis, the City has already made plans to extract approximately $10 million from the Wastewater Enterprise Fund Reserves to balance future budgets. I.e., $2 million per year for each of the next 5 years.

    Why are restricted WW funds being used as the City Council’s piggy-bank? Why are they going towards paying for non-WW capital projects such as streets and drainage? Instead of budgeting according to the amount of money available, the City Council has bought into practically all of the City staff’s capital projects dream list.

    The Lodging Council member on the Budget Oversight Commission stated “We can always increase [WW] rates if we need to.”

    My interpretation of Henry’s Letter to the Sedona Eye: He is blaming City Hall for mismanagement and overspending, not accusing others. BTW, many of us on the sewer were charged over $8,000 for sewer connections via the builder’s selling price.

  5. What is the latest with this?

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