Home » City Council, Community » 2013 Sedona City Musings, Part One

2013 Sedona City Musings, Part One

SedonaEye.com columnist Eddie Maddock reviews 2013

SedonaEye.com columnist Eddie Maddock reviews the City of Sedona as it was in 2013 in Part One of a two part series

Sedona AZ (January 18, 2014) – OK, if you haven’t already done so, prepare to add another candle to your birthday cake since we crossed “GO” for another 12-month session to trip the light fantastic.

Reflecting on the past year, following are a few highlights:

• 1/5 – City of Sedona Public Works Department announced relocation of equipment and materials to its new 0.8 acre facility at 2070 Contractors Road

• 1/7 – Sedona resident Henry Twombly, in a letter to Sedona Eye editor, pleads for City to pay down debts and stop spending money on unnecessary construction projects. Suggests ballot measure to “gauge support of its pro-growth agenda that puts us deeper in debt.”

• 1/12 – Harley McGuire bids a “paws-up-farewell” to Ms.” B” of the Humane Society of Sedona.

• 1/14 – Sedona City Council awards $28K to Mayor’s committee “Sedona Visioning Group” for the purpose of supporting the arts.

• 1/22 – Councilman Mike Ward depicts dire need for Drainage Master Plan and questions sources for funding. “In 2003, it was recognized that the increasing urbanization of Sedona has resulted in increased runoff from homes, driveway, and parking lots,” states Ward in his City report column on Sedona Eye.

• 1/24 – At the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Lunch & Learn the keynote speaker was Sedona Mayor Rob Adams who explained why Sedona spent over $34 million at the areas of Sedona Wetlands & Wastewater Treatment Plant. He maintained the funds were well spent and, as reported, expounded on his “dreams for that area.”

• 1/26 – The City Public Works Department announced intent to begin new inspection program (Wastewater Capacity Compliance Program) to entail random wastewater capacity inspections for non-single family resident users.

• 1/30 – In a letter to the Sedona Eye editor from Warren Woodward entitled “Community Plan Insanity Plans?” he detailed certain features of his concern. This was, perhaps, the first in a year-long series of similar complaints, the subject of which will be on a March 2014 ballot for City of Sedona registered voters to determine the fate of the revised plan.

Moving forward to February, a more concerted effort surfaced regarding the Arizona Corporation Commission and APS regarding future proposed installations of “smart meters” in Sedona and surrounding areas. Letters to the editor from Warren Woodward and Nancy Baer served as a heads up prior to the formation of “Sedona Smart Meter Awareness” which was to soon officially organize.

Sedona City Council

Sedona City Council

The City announced the hiring of a new Community Development Director, Kevin Snyder of Auburn, WA, to join staff in March, base salary of $98,000 with benefit package providing health, dental, and vision medical insurance.

An invitation later in the month from the City extended community input on the proposed ten-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP) at a general public meeting slated to be held in the Vultee Conference Room on March 5. A letter to the editor from Sedona taxpayer Jean Jenks prior to this announcement detailed her reasons for evaluating the ten-year CIP as “wholly unrealistic.”

City committed to employ a geotechnical firm to provide a report regarding stability of a segment of Airport Road. They will share the report with Yavapai County and the Sedona Airport Authority as part of developing an approach to repair the road shoulder issue.

By March, and at the request of Mayor Rob Adams, “pre-meetings” before Regular Council Meetings had become part of the routine, and over and above the scheduled procedures, Special City Council Meetings began to flourish which allowed for expanded consideration of such things as the Barbara Antonsen Memorial Park, possible sales and bed tax increases, and status of parking/traffic issues uptown. Discussions relating to vacant land locations for City to purchase for the purpose of creating more parks rapidly accelerated to lofty heights. Those lobbying for increased City indebtedness by purchasing more properties for parks maintain the demand is from a majority of City residents. Is that, in fact, the truth?

Sedona Humane SocietyTowards the end of the month, City Council approved to accept Parks & Recreation Master Plan with only Mike Ward declining “due to citizens’ expectations without identified source of funding.”

Of the six properties suggested for City to purchase, consideration was reduced to two: Brewer Road and ADOT property at the “Y”.

On April 4, Sedona resident J. Rick Normand submitted a letter to the editor of Sedona Eye reminding three currently seated council members and the mayor of campaign promises, including but not limited to the following quote:

“Any of these now seated Councilors and Mayor who would vote for a proposal to impose new Chamber-funneled excise/sales taxes on non-Chamber small businesses whom will not directly benefit from the tourist trade, and retirees who are struggling to stop the rapid deterioration of their savings accounts, as well as seniors and elderly who are living off devalued fixed income sources, not to mention low-wage earners employed in Sedona while living here, will have committed an inherently immoral act including betrayal of the above-mentioned campaign promises.”

On a more upbeat note, the City Council withdrew $50,000 for uptown posts allocated to support cross-road advertising event banners thus eliminating another potential challenge for Keep Sedona Beautiful. Hurray!

smart metersDuring the month of May, Sedona Smart Meter Awareness accelerated their efforts to provide information relating to SM negative health effects as well as suggestions from “How-to Opt out of APS Smart Meters Guide.” Nancy Baer and Monnie Ramsell faithfully spoke during public forums at council meetings as Warren Woodward continued offering updated written data.

Parks & Recreation offered more activities for kids and Public Works scheduled street and parking lot maintenance.

Resurrection of the failed Cultural Park resurfaced as did future plans for development of some sort at the Sedona Wetlands Preserve (sewer plant.) In conjunction with expanded suggestions for costly “wish list” projects, disputes relating to the subject of various methods to increase taxes to fund these non-essential “woofy-wowzers” remained a dangling threat to residents and business owners. Conspicuous by absence from the agenda remained suggestions to “cut spending.”

By the first of June, City Council approved a request from the Chamber of Commerce for the remaining $80,000 from the first ever $100,000 “Discretionary Fund” line item for the purpose of Destination Marketing to be used by the C of C and Tourism Bureau.

The City of Sedona Arizona

The City of Sedona Arizona

Responding to Councilman John Martinez when asked about Destination Marketing funding and any relation to salaries, Jennifer Wesselhoff advised him her salary is solely derived from membership dues.

However, Michele Conway, Director of Marketing for the Chamber of Commerce, offered a different accounting of Chamber funding as reflected in a “Chamber News” article, Sedona Red Rock News, 5/24/13 as follows:

“The public funds from the city are combined with private funding through Tourism Bureau membership dues and advertising to create a total marketing, sales and public relations budget of approximately $500,000. This total budget includes operational expenses, salaries, and administration, in addition to the actual execution of promoting.”

Ms. Conway’s statement did not reflect the additional $80,000 the Chamber received from the “Discretionary Fund” line item.

osher lifelong learning center sedona 2Concerns lingered about consideration of the legitimate return of increased bed taxes to apply to a contract with the Chamber of Commerce for Destination Marketing largely because it is a special interest, member driven organization. A Sedona Eye reader submitted the following link to support questioning the “Chamber Chairman’s Circle” http://www.sedonachamber.com/article/56 as resident Henry Twombly again appeals to the city that “Sedona Residents, not Tourists, pay Majority of Tax Revenue.

Early in June the Sedona Lodging Council distributed a form letter via the Chamber of Commerce encouraging businesses and their employees to sign it and return it for presentation to the Sedona City Council, the purpose being to:

“PLEASE COUNT ON MY SUPPORT FOR THE .5% CITY SALES TAX AND THE .5% BED TAX INCREASE based on the City’s commitment to dedicate 60% of the total bed tax collections to the City’s Official Destination Marketing Organization and 20% be allocated for tourism product development.”

Sedona wastewater treatment wetlands

Sedona wastewater treatment wetlands

During that same period of time, other Sedona businesses were circulating petitions objecting to the proposed .5% increased City sales tax.

Staff recommendation of implementation and action plan for transition of City Commissions to “Citizen Engagement” was approved by a 4/3 vote. This occurred only after a previous hotly contested decision was made by the City Council to eliminate most of the standing City Commissions. Although strongly supported by Staff, lack of public notice under the new policy remains a concern.

City Council approved $345,588 for the contract with Carollo Engineers to allow for a design project to serve areas presently on sewer but not to allow for future connections to Sedona areas not yet connected.

The proposal resurfaced for the second time to purchase property adjacent to City Hall. It failed again by a 4/3 vote.

In the meantime, City of Sedona advertises to fill the following positions after having previously announced pursuit for applications for the position of Accounting Technician:

Sedona job openings1. City Maintenance Worker

2. Assistant Planner

3. Arts & Culture Coordinator

4. Part-time position of Citizen’s Engagement Coordinator

A “biggie” was that the Sedona City Council supports community-wide Smart Meter Opt Out and directed staff the next steps regarding this plan. The City will file a letter requesting community opt-out without penalties with the Arizona Corporation Commission, specifically as follows:

“. . . direct the staff to prepare a statement for the Arizona Corporation Commission that expresses concerns, on behalf of our Sedona citizens, that Smart Meters have not been proven safe and until such time as definitive proof exists the Arizona Corporation Commission should allow the Sedona community to opt out without penalties.”

Hurray, Hurray, Hurray!

And with that, let us leave the first six months of 2013 musings to rest in peace on an upbeat note.

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. Donna Joy says:

    Liked this article on Facebook.

  2. Alan says:

    points out city needs direction at council level, poor leadership apparent

  3. Dana Varney says:

    Liked this article on Facebook.

  4. Roger says:

    @Alan. Thanks for astute observation to what should be the obvious.

  5. Matt says:

    Shows that little gets done & lots of money gets spent. Spent money unaccounted for // books should be audited not for numbers matching but for laws matching numbers.

    We’ve lots of people serving thinking they’re knighted & not citizens. For less than 10K why run a dog & pony show like Phoenix? You’re just not all that.

  6. Jean says:

    On Mayor Rob Adams maintaining the over $34 million was well spent as regards the Sedona Wetlands & Wastewater Treatment Plant: Well, Mayor, there’s more waste than just sewage.

    I used to bird the treatment plant with the local Audubon Society in the early 2000s. There were about 5 ponds adjacent to SR 89A exactly where the new wetlands are located. As with the City’s drainage situation, these ponds were not maintained. Soon plant life overtook them. Eventually cows were allowed to graze the area and woof down the native and non-native vegetation. Not too long afterwards, bulldozers showed up and the area was nuked.

    Now we have a boring wetlands with little plant diversity and almost no trees in the location where a nice wetlands once existed. In addition to the loss of plant diversity, the diversity in bird species is not that good, either. And how many residents and visitors want to picnic at a sewer plant? Just as the Mayor claimed at the Osher Institute Lunch & Learn, ‘the funds were well spent.”

  7. […] If you missed part one of this two part series, visit 2013 Sedona-city-musings-part-one. […]

  8. Affordable Care Act News and Assistance says:

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