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Eye on Sedona with Assistant City Manager Osburn

Article submitted by City of Sedona AZ and written by Assistant City Manager Karen Daines Osburn.

Sedona AZ (May 10, 2018) – One of the most important activities of government is to decide how to allocate limited resources to the capital improvement projects, services and amenities that serve citizens. Making good choices – deciding which trade-offs are worth making – depends on the quality of the data and the dialog that influences budgeting decisions.

For the Sedona City Council and city staff members, a key component of the process is the involvement of citizen representatives willing to delve into the details of every project and program that vies for funding for the coming fiscal year. For this column I asked some of this year’s members to share their experiences.

Group member Holli Ploog sees the group’s role as both service and oversight. “We review and recommend spending on capital projects, review justification for each department’s increases to the operating budget, consider cost saving measures to reduce or eliminate unnecessary spending, and safeguard expenditures of taxpayers money,” she says.

The process is not for the faint of heart. Work Group members are involved in every step of the journey, from initial proposal to final approval. They dedicate significant time to reading detailed descriptions of programs and proposals, learning about city issues and challenges, scrutinizing spreadsheets and debating how to choose which competing needs should receive funding.

When all is said and done, the budget packet that is presented to the city council is detailed and complex. The budget for the current fiscal year, 2018-19, is a 330-page document that provides a comprehensive view of the city’s financial health and spending priorities: a look at where we’ve been, where we are, and where we want to go in the coming year.

New to the process this year is Anne Khoury, who says she was surprised by its thoroughness. “It is not a speedy process,” she says, “as budget decisions are not made by the staff or the city manager. Staff members prepare their proposed budgets for baseline operations and then propose budget additions and deletions with knowledge of council and citizen priorities, the city plan, and long range revenue forecasts. The city council is the body that makes the final budget decisions, and the city manager and staff execute the decisions.”

The annual budget process begins in December or January and culminates in June, when the Sedona City Council discusses and approves a balanced budget, as required by Arizona law, for the coming fiscal year. Every step of the way, members of the Citizens Budget Work Group provide input.

Charlotte Hosseini has been a work group member for the past three years, asking the questions that she thinks her fellow citizens might want to ask. “Being allowed into some of the actual deliberations among senior staff and department heads is a rarity in my experience,” she says. “This contact has given me insights that I would not get from occasional articles and makes me confident that I understand the rationale and consequences for big decisions like the transportation tax or the upcoming Home Rule vote.”

It has been a privilege to have the assistance and participation of the Sedona citizens who comprise the Citizens Budget Work Group: Charlotte Hosseini, Janice Howes, Anne Khoury, John Martinez, Holli Ploog, and Jessica Williamson. This is the sixth year the work group has been embedded in the city’s budget development process.

I encourage all Sedona residents to become involved in your city, and contribute to our very important budget dialog. You are always welcome to view all of the city’s budget and audit documents online at sedonaaz.gov/finance.

This SedonaEye.com article was written by Karen Daines Osburn, Assistant City Manager, and submitted by the City of Sedona.

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


  1. @ Karen Daines Osburn says:

    This is a promotion for Home Rule. It implies the City’s budgeting process is legitimate. Financially conservative people do not get on the budget committee. I personally know people turned away.

  2. Thank you Karen says:

    Appreciate the article Karen

    Interesting how there are actually people that enjoy getting involved and being part of the process…Right on….Good for them.

    Reading sedona eye the past years I was pretty sure that all people. In Sedona did was complain about everything behind thier computer.

    So thanks again for the article…. As far as the comment about trying to influence an election.. I suspect that comment comes from one of those people I mentioned above..

    Thank you .

  3. Mike H says:

    You can visualize the Sedona finances and the budget under NO Home rule like this:

    Under NO Home rule the State of Arizona estimates a budget for a city our size of about $ 25 million, call it the Toyota Camry plan. Efficient and practical.

    The city of Sedona has been spending about $35 million, taking outstanding care of their friends and employees, Call it the Cadillac plan. The city currently spends about $6 million on Police and about $2 million maintaining roads.

    The city stacks the budget committee, you can’t get on it if you are frugal. Needful things like a facility for the horses of the mounted unit. Police Spending, right?

    The city sees Home Rule coming up for a vote, they do an estimated budget of close to $50 million, the Rolls Royce plan.

    They plead, “You Voters can’t vote in home rule, you would cut our budget by 50% !! From $50 million to $25 million !! The city will stop all critical services !!””

    Remember, they only spend about $2 million on Roads and $6 million on the police.

    Now you know their scam. Make them drive a Camry. It will only work if you vote out anyone associated with the current city scam. If they have been on a committee or city council, they were probably part of the scam. There were a few dissenting voices, but none I am aware of are running for council.

    Vote NO on Home Rule, it’s your money.

    Oh yea, the argument that the taxes will just sit in the bank or go back to the state? Bull, the concept of cutting taxes is so foreign to this group it does not even enter their mind, Resident taxes and sewer fees can be cut.

  4. To Assistant City Manager Osburn says:

    What a joke. I hold you responsible for the state of discord Assistant City Manager Osburn.

    You have enabled and endorsed imo for the NON-residents and Special interests to take over OUR city. CEP is a crack pot joke and it’s used to control and manipulate IMO.

    In my opinion you love to spend others money just like when you worked for the SFD. You have contributed to the disenfranchising of the legitimate residents & businesses for your own ENRICHMENT and welcome no one but those that go anlong with your agenda IMO.

    Scammers always trying to get more and take from the taxpayers. IMO again.


  5. RWH says:

    @KDO What you write on paper is deceiving. Want to have me tell you why? NVM here goes.

    There’re people who applied to serve on committees and were ignored. Truth is those committees work behind closed doors / aka NO TRANSPARENCY. Too many of the same people are controlling most if not all of Sedona city government. Not only do those secret committees include people OutSIDe city limits but people who’re self serving and use the opportunity to facilitate their special interest groups. The process stinks. I resent the council that approved it.

    To my recollection it was the same city council that managed to enact the most horrible despicable policy of all aka city’s contract with the regional chamber without seeking requests for other proposals!!!!!
    Bad news. Bad Bad. Nuf said?

  6. Thank you karen says:

    I also appreciate the posts right under mine for proving my point…

  7. No truth karen says:

    @ Thank you karen

    The post under yours REFUTE your point, they do not prove it. Your posts are just disinformation, like Karen Daines Osburn’s original article.

  8. BIG Goverment says:

    $edona ia BIG Government with Big Benefits for City employees & Chamber. No work ALL Play.

    Special interests control City hall. It YOUR money and now it is YOUR chance to say NO to the city of Sedona.

    By Voting NO you STOP the Chamber from ruining YOUR QUALITY of LIFE. Check out the new Budget MORE money MORE chamber MORE increases for City Staff.

    City Staff has increased over 40%. The more staff the more bogus projects they dream up to overwhelm Council.

    VOTE NO on Alternative Limitation Spending No more aka Home Rule
    Stop Cronyism, favoritism and corruption.

  9. @no truth KAREN says:

    I’ll take Karen Osburn’s word on the matter.

    She is a smart hardworking women who serves the public.
    You probally not so much.

    Complaining and spreading misinformation is not service… I also applaud the people on the citizens advisory for “getting involved”. Sitting behind your computer dpeading lies is not “ getting involved”

    Keep up the great work Karen.. People around these parts HATE the thurth.

    Richard Saunders

  10. Residents First says:

    MIsinformation from the assistant of (Clifton), the “Sedona is a tourist town”, translation Sedona’s not your home anymore. “Traffic is our destiny !”, translation just live with bumper to bumper traffic, because we want to make money off your home.

    I DEMAND my home back. Vote No on home rule, Vote all incumbents out , Fire all city management. Snidely Whiplash, Spend more Karen and the city council must go!

  11. Suntee says:

    I’m surprised any of the existing council is considering running for re election, you can feel the heat of anger rising off the screen in these comments. With the exception of the few disinformation posts which are easily spotted, the anger is intense. Those foolish enough to run for reelection will be soundly defeated.

  12. @suntee says:

    Your joking right?

    The angry you feel are from three people who consistently love playing a victim with their over blown overly dramatic comments!! Lol

  13. @Richard Sanders AKA Collister says:

    You should apply for a comedian job.

    @Karen so happy you serve YOU! Do us taxpayers a favor and move to Prescott. That will save us around 22 million of taxpayers money a year!!!!!!

  14. Anonymous (not Tony Tonsich) says:

    Thank you Karen

    Good information.
    You are a dedicated public servant and are appreciated..
    Thanks again

  15. Tony Tonsich says:

    @Tony tonsich

    Trust me, I will NEVER compliment Karen Osburn.

    Please remove the post using my name without capital letters.

  16. JJ says:

    Why do we need an assistant city manager or an assistant to an assistant city manager in this small little town?

  17. Pigs in charge says:

    You know, you cant really blame Karen Osburn. It’s as if you put a pig in charge of the apple storage, left with no supervision and came back to find all the apples eaten, would you blame the pig? The pig would say, I gave you an accounting, the other pigs supervised.

    You residents left the pigs in charge, you were shocked, shocked when they acted like pigs. You can write here on the Sedona Eye, but you did not run for office. You were too busy, or did not want your finances to be public. Your wife said you would spend too much time in meetings. You did not want the stress. You thought other people would donate to the candidates.

    The Sedona you knew and loved is about gone, this election will either seal the deal or slow it a bit. Pigs did what pigs do. You may have written about it, you may have just read, but other than words, you did nothing to stop them.

    You let the pigs run wild. Sedona is now over run with pigs. You are surprised that they act like pigs?

    Look in the mirror, it’s your fault.

  18. Cathy, Nepenthe says:

    What are the salaries at city hall and how many people work there? I never see very many. You have to have people working to keep the city running.

  19. Tony Tonsich says:

    City Manager $164,999.90
    Assistant city manager $133,108.18
    Bus Development Dir $94,230.68
    5 other city manager office staff

    Community Dev Director $117,929.72
    15 other community Development staff, making making $39,457 to $74,723

    Finance Director $120,512.24
    10 other people shown on the 2016-2017 Finance payroll

    Parks and Rec Director $74,923.40
    43 other people shown on the 2015-2017 Parks are rec payroll, many appear part time.

    Public works Dir $106,889.90
    32 other people on Public works payroll, some appear part time 3 besides the director make over $70,000

    Wast water Dir $106,262.5
    13 other people on the wastewater payroll.

    These are all 2016-2017 numbers, from the last full payroll year. I’m sure they make more now.

  20. steve Segner says:

    JJ says:and Tony.
    May 13, 2018 at 6:47 pm
    Why do we need an assistant city manager or an assistant to an assistant city manager in this small little town?

    Only in your mind, Sedona is not a small hick town, we have $40,000,000 budget and we need the best people money can buy to manage Sedona.
    Big town, small town, med size town the job is the same and pay should be enough to get and keep the best.

  21. Tony Tonsich says:

    On my post above it is not a complete list of city employees. It also does not include any employee benefits, just salaries.

    There are also

    3 employees in the city clerks office
    12 in Court
    5 in Legal
    5 in IT
    2 in human resources.

    I think you didn’t see them around much because they are in meetings or enjoying their 2 weeks paid leave and two weeks paid vacation, or comp time, or travel, etc etc.

    I won’t mention the police. I plan on leaving staffing there alone.

  22. F.Y.I. says:

    F.Y.I., we do not have the best people money can buy to manage City government.

    According to the NATIONAL CITIZEN SURVEY SEDONA, AZ COMMUNITY LIVABILITY REPORT 2017, several GOVERNANCE ratings [5 out of 9] lagged behind the national average (Page 5).

    Lower than national benchmark:

    Overall direction- 31%; Confidence in City government – 35%; Acting in the best interest of Sedona – 34%; Being honest – 40%; Treating all residents fairly – 42%.

    From FIGURE 10: Support for Growth Industries (Page 13):

    TOURISM (i.e., hotels, restaurants)
    Strongly support – 18%
    Somewhat support – 25%
    Somewhat oppose – 24%
    Strongly oppose – 33%

    Link: http://www.sedonaaz.gov/home/showdocument?id=33716

  23. Funny @ Karen says:

    This is hysterical. Oh sure I am buying that one. Volunteers came up with making the chamber part of city managers office and increased every department across the board.

    I bet they also planned for the police to ticket 3 times the amount next year in order for you to make more money.More tickets more money. Did they also come up with doubling the expenses for city council so we can pay for their lunches and travel?

    Yep I believe you Hahahahahaha OMG!!!

  24. Paul says:

    By those numbers in the posts by Tony Tonsich, it looks like a lot of people working for the city to me.

    Cathy, Nepenthe says ” I never see very many.” That tells you how many are really needed.

  25. jj says:

    @Segner keep telling yourself the city hires the best. This town is the most severely mismanaged town ever. One more economic downturn will ruin this one horse town and the looters will run out of town so fast they will take you with them. The real stakeholders and property owners will be left holding the bag. But you will find another town to loot and ruin.

  26. Throw them out says:

    City payroll is too high, I think we could eliminate all in the city managers office and probably half the staff.

    It’s time for all new city council, all new city management and NO ON HOME RULE.

    If everyone tells 10 people they know about Sedona Eye, and No on home rule, we can change this.

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