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2013 Sedona City Musings, Part Two

SedonaEye.com columnist Eddie Maddock reviews 2013

SedonaEye.com columnist Eddie Maddock reviews 2013 for the City of Sedona in her Eye on Sedona two part series

Sedona AZ (January 30, 2014) The second in a two-part series about the City of Sedona, SedonaEye.com columnist Eddie Maddock delves into its 2013 highlights and lowlights as only she can:

…Moving onward into July 2013, the City indicates the need for even more additional staff as they advertise a job offering for Enforcement Officer.

Good news for those property owners connected to the wastewater treatment plant. City Council approves to defer implementation of the projected 10% monthly rate increases.

The Chamber of Commerce hit another lottery when they received (over and above the budgeted $600,000) an additional $10,000 grant for the Marathon event. When questioned how the money was spent, the response was vague at best. Other recipients of grants such as the Wine Festival also neglected to provide itemized documentation relating to specific funding disbursement.

At the request of Council Members Mike Ward and Barbara Litrell, a Council Meeting is slated on July 30 for the purpose of reviewing procedure for establishing a City Property Tax and also discussions relating to Special Improvement Districts and General Obligation (GO) Bonds.

July 31, the Chamber of Commerce and Lodging Council present their recommendations for increasing bed and sales tax. The final decision is to dismiss the proposal to raise the sales tax but to move forward with publishing on the City’s website a notice of City’s intention to consider at its regular meeting on October 8th a possible increase to City bed tax from 3% to 3.5% for the purpose of increasing funding for Destination Marketing.

Sedona winefest 4Kicking off August, Parks & Recreation is pleased to offer a Recreational Fitness Class for adults. Cost of program: $120.

As Sedona Smart Meter Awareness continues to campaign in surrounding cities and towns, VOC resident Elaine Brown shares with Sedona Eye her open letter of gratitude to “Mayor Adams and City of Sedona Councilors” for having made this serious threat of Smart Meters an extended issue so others became aware.

More construction problems at City Hall earned an amount not to exceed $195,905 to be approved for additional drainage improvements.

September offers the celebration of the Grand Opening of the Sedona Wetlands Preserve, City Council approval of Staff’s recommendation for yet another design for the Barbara Antonsen Memorial Park, and plans for their newest holiday tradition, Tinsel Town at Posse Grounds.

City awards Chamber of Commerce an additional $25,000 to assist with “Holiday Central” having been created as an attempt to fill the void left due to Diamond Resort’s cancellation of the annual Festival of Lights at Los Abrigados. Kevin Snyder, Director of Dept. of Community Development, also offers $5,000 “in-kind” assistance.

Sedona City Council

Sedona City Council

At the Council Meeting on September 17 – based on the Sedona Visitor Industry report – the Chamber and Lodging Council requests allocation of 56% of total bed tax collections to the destination marketing activities and operation of the visitor’s center.

Having been offered nothing more in the way of planned spending other than repeated requests to “Trust us,” a majority of City Council votes to approve a 50% return to the Chamber or Commerce without benefit of obtaining RFP’s from professionally qualified marketing sources and “without actual accounting of the structure of the Chamber’s membership, requirements, or demographics of members,” according to Assistant City Manager Karen Daines.

Kevin Snyder, Director of Dept. of Community Development, changes name to “Sedona Community & Economic Development Department” to become effective October 1st.

Transitioning into October, City hires Lauren Browne for the position of “Citizen Engagement Coordinator.” Also, City offers a sealed bid request for the construction of Soldier Wash Jersey Barrier Drainage Project.

It was unanimously agreed upon to move forward with finalizing the designations at the October 8th Council Meeting for the increased bed tax, to become effective January 1, 2014, and the increased funding to the Chamber of Commerce to go in effect July 1, 2014.

imagine sedona community planBecause the Chamber lobbied selective members to support additional funding, yet another vote was solicited from the City Council to increase the bed tax return to the Chamber from 50% to 55%. Councilman Mark DiNunzio proved to be the swing vote as had been predicted in the form letter circulated on behalf of the cause. Mayor Adams and Councilwoman Barbara Litrell did not support the additional 5%.

Standard Construction Company begins shoulder improvements on Sunshine Lane.

Mayor Rob Adams offers his State of City Address covering a review of fiscal condition, update on significant accomplishments from Staff and City Council as well as an overview of the draft Community Plan Update.

smart meters 37Sedona Smart Meter Awareness revs up campaign against “smart meters” by featuring free screening of the Josh Del Sol documentary, “Take Back Your Power.”

Parks & Recreation holds annual “Pumpkin Splash” event. Entry fee: $3.00.

Sedona Parks & Recreation offers “Finding Peace in a Stressful World” via a two-part exploration in the art of Feng Shui. Cost: $20 per person for part one or $30 per person for both parts.

City advertises for sealed bids for the construction of the 2013 SR89A Transit Shelter Project.

ice skates rinkSedona Community & Economic Development Department Director Kevin Snyder engages with City Council in “the first of what he hopes will be many discussions to further advance methods to enhance local and regional progress to boost economic levels.” He neatly ties this in at a meeting the following day, together with Long Range Community Development Planner Mike Raber and two members of the Community Plan Steering Committee, to present to the City Council “matrix items” on the Draft Community Plan.

November brings forth more detailed plans for “Holiday Central.” As part of the plan, for $13,000 City rents use of a portable ice skating rink for “Tinsel Town” for one week in December of which Diamond Resorts agrees to pay $2,500 of that cost. City also signs a 3-month lease agreement with ADOT for their property at the “Y” to be used as a “warming” station and gift wrapping freebie.

adot city construction highwayArizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) makes an official announcement that during the summer of 2014 they will be improving a five-mile stretch of 89A in Oak Creek Canyon which will require closing of that portion of the state route for up to five weeks.

On November 26, Kevin Snyder highly encourages City Council to purchase Brewer Road property in order to fulfill a town center which he suggests is sorely lacking in Sedona. City Council does, in fact, approve purchase of that land at $650,000 ($130,000 above appraisal.) Mike Ward and John Martinez cast the two dissenting votes.

Hello, Goodbye

Hello, Goodbye

December 2: Breaking news relating to Kevin Snyder’s resignation from his position as Sedona Community & Economic Development Department Director surfaces from the shadows in Auburn, WA.

City Council officially approves Citizen’s Engagement as a replacement for City Commissions.

City Council adopts a resolution that calls on U.S. Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform.

City Council approves after a heated discussion for a “Moment of Silence” to be acknowledged at the beginning of City Council Meetings.

Of course this exercise in “Musings” represents but a mere random selection of a multitude of activities that occurred during Year 2013. And what is the purpose of this admittedly lengthy yet incomplete review?

Possibly it lacks purpose but then again, if – in any way – it will serve as a reminder of government procedures – maybe it will be worth something.

For example, the solicitation from the Chamber of Commerce to work the process to increase the bed tax – in order to acquire more funding originated in March and was concluded in October – and the Citizen’s Engagement Program wasn’t formally ratified until December.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Future plans – 2014?

For starters: 

Water usage and sewer rates are already under review.

• Some sort of “plan” relating to how additional bed tax funding will be spent for Destination Marketing will be forthcoming perhaps in February.

Business licensing to be revisited for revision.

As announced at the City Council Meeting on January 14, 2014, Mayor Adams suggests the following for upcoming agendas:

Having met with a group of people regarding a ham radio antenna at the end of Soldier Pass Road, he suggests review of the existing code relating to installation of towers in Sedona.

• He hopes to request for more discussion about residential rentals; suggests “rental exemption” discussion for those who contribute to specific housing needs.

Suggests looking at existing properties to convert to multiple family zones.

• Sustainability of operating expenses, in particular salaries and benefits.

Assistant City Manager Karen Daines reminded the City Council of a planned work session on February 12, 2014, to serve as a review of existing priorities.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Barbara Litrell and Jessica Williamson requested that the Yavapai College decision to vacate their holding in Sedona be brought before the City Council for public discussion and clearer understanding of the intended change in the College’s ten-year plan.

And, of course, the all important conclusion to the outcome of the revised Community Plan will be decided by voters on March 11, 2014.

The election for expiring terms of the Mayor and City Council has been reassigned from March and May to the following dates:

Primary Election: August 26, 2014

General Election: November 4, 2014

Terms expiring: Mayor Rob Adams, (two years); City Council Members Barbara Litrell, Mike Ward and Dan McIlroy, (four years).

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” ~Buddha

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

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. Al says:

    interesting 2 parts, little got done except raise taxes & redistribute the money, thats government

  2. Keith says:

    ???????????you expected MORE???????????baaawaaaahaaaa

  3. your city spent how much to do this

    keith man that’s a baaawwwwwaaaahaaa moment

    you need to move to irvine

  4. Ben says:

    after reading the decisions Kevin Snyder influenced in less than one year (down w/Commissions; support for more ways to tax residents and businesses; endorsement of the revised community plan, especially changes in land use; prompting city to buy Brewer property without solid plans for future funding for improvements . . . ) well, just imagine what more he could do had he not moved back to Auburn, WA. Good riddance and congratulations to Auburn!

  5. Ted says:

    Looking at what the mayor wants on future agendas is, well, troubling. If the election isn’t until Nov. then new council won’t be seated until first of year. Right?

    That means these people have one year to do how much more damage? Of course, that’s not considering that any of them will run again. Perish that thought. Of course every election we hope to get better representation but all it amounts to is being worse than the previous ones. What happens to these people once seated behind those chairs? The power surge doesn’t appear to be restricted to Smart Meters. (my opinion)

  6. Kathy says:

    Thanks, Eddie, a good reminder of what has been going on and especially for me since I was gone all summer.

  7. Jean says:

    Not good news for residential property owners connected to the sewer.

    Table 28, “Recommended Wastewater Rate Schedule,” from Consultant Hoag’s proposed new WW rate study contains a 10% RETROACTIVE “Cost of Service Adjustment” for FY 2013-14, the current fiscal year. It recommends changing the $47.34 existing monthly residential service rate to an adjusted rate of $52.24 (on paper only). This means the 10% monthly increase officially deferred by the City will be negated IF the Mayor and Council approve the new rate study.

    Undoubtedly concerned property owners will ask where the current fiscal year $4.90/mo. rate increase for residential customers will come from.

    The table on the 2nd page of the “2013 Annual Community REPORT” shows a Wastewater “Enterprise” Fund Revenue Over Expenditures (YTD) projection of $1,335,603. Are sewer ratepayers getting a refund of the amounts overcharged and overpaid? No way!!

    Instead, when the rate study’s Recommended Monthly Service Rates (Table 28) get rubberstamped, the Council will eliminate the FY 2013-14 deferrals even though the City’s projected Revenue Over Expenditures (YTD) for the prior fiscal year was a positive $1,335,603.

    In addition, the City will reap a windfall by calculating the 6 years of 4% residential rate increases–to begin on July 1, 2014–by using the $52.24 PAPER amount instead of the $47.34 ACTUAL amount paid per month. Over six years time, this hocus-pocus will extract several hundred dollars more from each and every residential property owner (ADUs and Residential Low Flow excepted).

  8. Lynn says:

    10 %%%%%%%REAdjustmeNT wtf council sics sedona again.

  9. Peter says:

    Sock it to the residents is the name of the game in Sedona. And all this pre-planning and plotting for the future. No hope for these people to heed Buddha’s wise words. Their glory appears to be living in the future in order to arrogantly secure their legacies. Bah, humbug.

  10. Publicity Pamphlets have arrived in the mail. “Special Election” March 11, 2014: “A resolution of the Mayor and Council of the City of Sedona, Arizona, finding and determining certain facts and adopting the November 2013 New Sedona Community Plan of the City of Sedona Arizona.

    Two of the five letters of support are from members of the Steering Committee. (Angela LeFevre & Jon Thompson) The revised plan has much to do with “land use” and increased density to be accomplished through future rezoning.

    Please, read the letters, pro and con. And even more important, read the proposed plan. Once approved, and although amendments aren’t uncommon, it is your town, your property rights that are at stake here.

    A “No” vote will have the effect of rejecting the November 2013 New Sedona Community Plan and will keep the current 2002 Sedona Community Plan in effect until a new Plan is approved by Sedona voters.

    A “Yes” vote will have the effect of approving the 2013 New Sedona Community Plan, as adopted by the Sedona City Council, including its required elements bringing it into compliance with Arizona law.


  11. Vote to reject the new city plan. They want the citizens to walk, so more tourists can drive through. They want the citizens to pay higher fees, to they can give more unaccountable money to the chamber of commerce, so they can get more tourists and traffic.


  12. Marty says:

    Besides the two members of the steering committee supporting approval of the “new” Plan, two of the other letters are from members of the former housing commission (Linda Martinez and Sandy Moriarty.)

    Translated: vote “yes” and Mayor Adams’ dream for rezoning single family residential to multi-family will become a reality as is noted as being one of his future agenda items in the above article.

  13. Julie says:

    AGREED ! @ Richard Saunders @PUBLICITY PAMPHLETS & @Peter Vote No on the community plan. You see more invasions, more going to non city businesses, chamber. It already bad new plan let’s them do whatever they want. Stop it Now. Vote No! Reject

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