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Chapel Chimes by Sedona Times contributing columnist, Lin Ennis

Sedona AZ (April 10, 2010) – This week…

1. Torah Walk

2. Spring Maintenance Tip

3. Sewer Connection Info

4. Sewer Fee Info

5. Sewer Deferral Info

6. Sewer Commentary

7. Apologies

8. Games that end hunger

9. Celebrations

10. Letters

11. Surprise


1. Torah Walk

Chapel Torah Walk

This picture is from the Easter afternoon Torah Walk. Torah Walk is a monthly nature walk sprinkled with passages, dialogue and occasionally music that is somehow related to Jewish traditions or nature or spiritual growth. There are three full-fledged Jews in the picture above, a Catholic Chaplain, two Jews for Jesus, at least two non-committal but spiritually evolving folks, and one unknown. Rabbi Alicia Magal is 3rd from the right in the front row. I’m second from right.

Given the highly non-Jewish makeup of the group, we thought of suggesting a new name, like “Take a Jew for a Walk.”   The Catholic Chaplain, second from left, suggested “Joo wanna walk?”

I’ve now been on two such walks. They are relaxing, relational and rejuvenating.  Try one the next time you see it in the paper.

2. Home Maintenance Tip

This is a good time of year to recaulk your windows, inside and out, before it gets too hot to be outside doing it. Caulk dries up, or wood pulls away from it, breaching the security of your home. Termites, carpenter ants, wood rot and leaks are potential hazards. Window installers don’t always use the best grade of caulk. If you had a window replaced two years ago, chances are it needs to be recaulked.

Products keep improving. There are as many kinds of caulk available as there were colors of paint 50 years ago! The kind of caulk you choose must be based on the materials to be sealed, or bonded. I have half a dozen kinds in my shed. When appropriate, I prefer paintable clear silicone. I used one last week that can be painted after only four hours. For windows and our wicked Southwest heat, I love one called “Big Stretch.” You want everything sealed: windows, doors, beams, anything that looks like a crack or pock mark.

I find the employees at Ace hardware in West Sedona both knowledgeable and eager to share their expertise on repair products.

3.    Sewer Info

Contributed by Pat Halpin, Cougar Dr.: The city has published a document about wastewater in virtually all of its aspects from planning thru monthly fees. Pumping systems for lateral lines are referred to as STEP systems. Read the following publication:


4.   Sewer Fee Info

Tuesday, April 13th, City Council will be review adjustments to fees for Chapter 13—the City’s wastewater code. The proposal they’re considering increases monthly processing fees by 15% for each of the next two years, then continues to increase monthly rates by only 10% for each of the next three years.  That is a 76% increase because each year’s 10%-15% increase is multiplied by the last year’s higher rate. Five years = 76% increase.

During these same five years, the city will reduce its support of the wastewater treatment plant by 26%, from its current (and since incorporation) 46% down to a mere 20%. The 26% they pull from sewage treatment, they will slip into the General Fund. The 26% they pull from sewage treatment will be made up for by the 76% increase for residential users (other rates apply to other types of users).

Other changes proposed:

Undeveloped parcels in a sewered area will be levied 50% of the monthly sewer fee per month. Since the sewer is seen as an improvement to that property, that property owner should pay a fair share of the Chapter 13 expenses, whether or not the property will ever be developed. I.e., if you bought the property next door to yours to keep a little more open space around your lot, and your home is on the sewer, you will now be charged for your home, plus 50% of that for your undeveloped land.

Multi-family dwellings will be charged at 86% the regular residential rate (plus an account charge—what’s this? A cost of sending the bill?)

Capacity fee will be increased from its current $5150 to $7069 beginning in July 2011. [Theoretically, this could fall around 90 days from the sewer completion date + 6 months for ADEQ to review + 6 months to connect. However, Staff feels confident there will not be any glitches requiring them to add language that protects residents in the Chapel Area who’ve not been allowed to pay their capacity fee at the $5150 rate.]

The intent of all this rate hullabaloo is to make the Wastewater Enterprise fund “more self-sustaining.” It will never make money, they say.

Do not be distracted by people who call what the city pays a “subsidy.” It is not a subsidy. It is the city’s portion of the cost of a service it chose to provide. Though it is called an enterprise fund, a fund implies money. There isn’t any. We owe over $68 million on the darn thing. The interest alone is over $6 million per year.

The plant needs maintenance and upgrades. In public, Charles Mosley will declare the system has plenty of capacity to bring on the Chapel Area. However, we forwarded to you on March 17th a memo written by Mr. Mosley on March 12th.  We excerpt:

Our reclaimed effluent has been flowing into from Reservoir 3 into
Reservoir #2 since Sunday, February 28 .  This is a technical violation
of our permit, although the water does not drain offsite, since at
certain level water in Reservoir #2 may seep offsite through subsurface flow….
…any significant level in Reservoir #1 may result in
seepage onto forest service land before it overflows.
From Bruce Wymore: As for the horrendous odor around the wetlands area, [Mosley] said that 
was standard and to be expected and did not reflect any problem. 
Also from Bruce:
I do mind the increase, but not as much as I mind being forced to connect to a 
financially and physically ill sewer system and being forced to depend upon it going 
forward. I agree completely that Sedona has a very scary open liability with this 
system, and what the City is trying to do is in effect withdraw 
and separate the fate of its other spending from these problems. [emph. supp.]

From the City Code:


The city shall not be held liable for inability to provide or not providing wastewater collection service to any part of or throughout the city or for the discontinuance of service. This shall apply whether collection lines exist adjacent to a property or not. [emph. supp.] 

The Council will discuss this Tuesday, April 13th. The meeting starts at 4:30 in 
Council Chambers on Roadrunner Drive. It is item 10 on the Agenda, but the first 
seven items are rubber stamps and the next two are no big deal. However, if you want
to be heard, rather than merely counted, the Public Forum is item 5, just 
after roll call and reports by councilors on what they accomplished with 
the public this week. (Showing up and being counted is good, very good.)
Do you think a 76% increase over five years is a good idea? A fair idea? 

Do you want the City to find a way to leverage the 26% of tax collections into more 
debt for other projects rather than continuing to provide sewer service? What would
be projects you could get behind financially?

5. Sewer Deferral Info

Slipped into today’s newspaper as though no one would notice, item 11 in Tuesday’s meeting is a discussion of possible deferral of connection requirements

The first recommended deferral connection slate (over a year ago) was this:

1.      10 years or

2.    the house is sold, or

3.    the existing house is expanded in a way that requires a 35 % expansion in the current on-site system, or

4.    the system fails.

5.     The capacity fee would have to be paid at the start of deferment.

At subsequent meetings, deferral time was unceremoniusly dropped to three years and then to one year, with no explanation, but no vote was taken. Cliff Hamilton has been trying to keep the idea of permitted deferral alive. This is what he thinks he can sell:

1.      some time period passes, not less than 10 years  or

2.    the house is sold, or

3.    the existing house is expanded in a way that requires a 35 % expansion in the current on site system, or

4.    the system fails.

5.     The capacity fee would have to be paid at the start of deferment.

6.    The working system would have to be inspected every 2 years.

7.     The monthly standby charge (1/2 the sewer) would have to be paid

The alternatives to no deferment are:

Everyone in the Chapel Area has a maximum of six months from the time ADEQ says we’re good to go to pay the capacity fee if not already paid; hire a plumber and excavator to dig their trench, lay pipe and connect their line to the street lateral; hire a septic tank person to pump and clean their tank, then break a hole top and bottom and fill it with dirt; then replace the landscaping.

Pay a monthly fine equal to twice the monthly sewer rate

6. Sewer Commentary

There are so many things wrong with the city’s plan it boggles the mind. I will summarize, without elaborating if I can control myself. Pick the issue you would die for and contact your representatives. I will list things I’ve heard around town along with some of my own opinions. Evaluate for yourself please.

1.      The Sewage Treatement Plant should not be an “Enterprise Fund”

2.    Who made it an “Enterprise Fund,” and when and why?

3.    By having only part of the city sewered, an undue burden is placed upon residents in sewered areas. Towns with larger connected populations pay less.

4.    I don’t want to pay for the mistakes the city made by beginning with an inadequate system and not properly maintaining it.

5.     It isn’t my fault Eric Levitt thought rates should cover only processing but maintenance and upgrades should come from the city: don’t correct his mistakes on my back.

6.    Is it legal for the city to charge for a service it doesn’t provide?

7.     How can the city make me destroy my septic system when the sewage treatment plant has an ongoing problem with effluent, two near crises in the last two years, and solid waste problems? What if the system totally fails, or goes down even for a few days? What would I do? With the city’s ‘no liability’ clause, I don’t feel safe, which is one thing cities are supposed to provide residents.

8.    What about science that says centralized waste management systems are not as environment-friendly as dispersed, decentralized systems, so long as the lot sizes are adequate (about a third of an acre)?

9.    Why should I pay for something I don’t believe is for the common good and you have not proven otherwise?

10.    If you’re putting an extra 26% of tax revenues into the General Fund, what are you going to give me for taking up that slack by making up the difference with my increased sewer fees?

11.   What is your schedule for bringing restaurants and timeshares up to their full burden of use?

12. Why do you allow homeowners in connection-mandated areas to pay fines instead of connecting to the sewer? Is their sewage dangerous to the environment or not?

13. Do you now or will you in the future use deferment fines collected for environmental purposes, specifially protecting the waterways you claim the sewage treatment plant is for?

14. Make us your partners: Let half of us – or as many as want to – defer connection at no additional charge, thus causing less strain on your system. We could even sign gag agreements to stop criticizing the poorly planned plant and even worse study.

15.  I’ve installed filters on my outflow devices. What discount could I get for not having a garbage disposal, filtering my wash water, etc.?

16. I live alone and shower only once a week. Why should I pay the same as a household of 13?

17.  I have a graywater system. All of my shower, lavatory and washing machine drainage is recycled for my landscaping. The sewer pipe handles only one toilet and one kitchen sink. Do I have to pay the same as for a 6-bedroom 4.5 bath home with no nonpotable water reuse?

18. A 10% annual increase is outrageous. Fifteen is unconscionable.

19. __________ __________ ____ _____________ ______________ ______________!

The Council Meeting Materials are here:


You may contact the entire City Council (including the manager and asst. manager, I think) here:


7.    Apology

Since I ‘upgraded’ to Office 2010, spellcheck in my email program catches only about 2% of my typos. Transferring the document to Word and setting the Options to Start Over spell checking this document does not yield greater results. I flunked typing twice, so have mercy on me. Or if you know how to fix this software glitch, please tell me.

8.    Quit Playing FreeCell: Feed the Hungry!

I was recently introduced to a new neuron-building game that feeds the hungry for every correct answer you supply. You’ll find it at http://freerice.com/. The default is vocabulary, but you can also choose grammar (too easy), famous paintings (my favorite) or other topics.

At the very bottom of each page is a fine-print menu. Select Options, to select accumulate your totals rather than starting your count at zero each time you play a game. You can easily gift 1000 grains of rice while stimulating your cortex.

The reason I like the art, is that by hovering the mouse over the painting snapshot, I see a larger representation of it, and looking at so much beauty for a 10 minute break blesses my soul. When you miss one, the program tests you on the same artist again very soon.

I did not know VanGogh painted the Potato Eaters! A famous painting not in his characteristic style. I never miss a Cezanne or Gauguin. Da Vinci, Ruben and Raphael are harder for me 

9.    Celebrations

Happy Birthday!

Given the next issue may not be out before Shabbat/Sabbath begins next week, Happy Birthday to Itzhak (Ike) Magal on April 17th. (Mr. Rabbi.) Get to know Ike by Googling him. Or start here: http://movies.nytimes.com/person/267385/Itzhak-Magal

Happy Anniversary!


Our 17th anniversary celebration—this time at Reds. You can make reservations through OpenTable.com, earn points for reserving, showing up and evaluatiing. We booked online only 45 minutes ahead and they were ready for us with an out-of-the-way table.


 10.    Letters

Congratulations to you & Ellen — seventeen years is a real milestone.  I can only imagine what an amazing setting Muir Woods was for your vows — glad you chose Sedona over Northern CA!

Just want to thank you for devoting your precious free time to editing Chapel Bells — I’m sure it’s a labor of love, but still a labor!

…My best, Denise Madden

–         –    –

Ed and I love our yellow and white kitchen.  Your floor looks great!  Happy 17.  I also had almost 1/10″ of rain earlier in the week.  I will think about possible jokes to send you – blond jokes are my favorite.  Thanks again for the Chapel Chimes and all the timely info in it.  Peace,  Caroline Johnson (Starlight)

–         –    –

Thanks for the interesting newsletter Lin, and happy anniversary to you both! Lib  [Vagen] (Lynx Dr)

–         –    –

We’ve been so busy, but Bill and we love the weekly Chimes. –Janet Sabina (Antelope Dr)

–         –    –

Happy Anniversary to you and thank you for the lovely Chapel Chimes moments each week. Sue and Tom Gould (Panorama Ln)

–         –    –

Thanks to Carol Wirkus who brought over two slices of German Chocolate Cheesecake! This is a woman who is an excellent cook and baker and understands a woman’s need (anyone’s need?) for chocolate!

11. Surprise

Sedona Chapel area

This little gem came to us in a load of dirt the Wirkuses did not want in their front yard after buying their home from Buffalo Don. Each year since, the leaves have pushed up through the dirt and gravel, indicating a bulb below. This is the first year it has bloomed. It closes at night and reopens late morning. What is it?


Please get to know your neighbors, and let them get to know you, by sending your events; nature, family or travel pictures; along with special occasions and activities to lin@linennis.com by noon each Friday. To email a story or comment to the entire neighborhood (about 85 e-dresses), send it to ChapelArea@YahooGroups.com.



Chapel Chimes is published approximately weekly, usually Fridays, by someone who is usually or approximately local writer and educator Lin Ennis.

Read www.SedonaEye.com for daily news and interactive views!

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