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Sedona Achilles Heel

Sedona AZ (August 22, 2014) – The following is a letter to the SedonaEye.com editor:

As residents of Sedona, we are governed by three polities.

Article submitted by the City of Sedona

The City is proposing a budget of $38 million, when the last time we voted for Home Rule this year’s proposed budget was only $34 million, which was $9 million more than the State would allow.

The mill rate for the Fire District keeps climbing: 1.40 (2011-2), 1.63 (2012-3), 2.02 (2013-4), and 2.13 (2014-5); as mostly does the School District‘s: 2.22 (2011-2), 2.78 (2012-3), 2.75 (2013-4), 2.82 (2014-5). The School and Fire rates are actually much higher, when you include the Fire District Assistance Fund, the School Equalization fee, and the Minimum School Tax (the Budget Override).

None of the leaders of these polities seem to be fiscally responsible in addressing the continual tax increases.

Sedona Fire EMS ArizonaWhat is more disturbing in how they are spending the money. I received an anonymous letter about the School District, which I share verbatim

“Following your opposition to the Budget Override increase, I thought you would be upset with the most recent activity in the Sedona Oak Creek School District.

Since victory of the increase the District gave each teacher a $930 increase – one cell on the pay scale – reduced a few positions in two of the schools, increased administrator pay by a lot more than the teachers – there is not salary schedule for administration, and ADDED a principal to West Sedona School.

sedona oak creek unified school district logoThis principal has 110 students, and he is already the special education director. So the superintendent added a 30 hour per week secretary to the principal’s venue, when West Sedona already has 2.35 hour per week secretaries who had been running their K-8 office just fine. And just to be sure the new principal does not get too overwhelmed, the special education secretary who had been at 20 hours per week was increased to over 30 hours per week.

The current principal at West Sedona also saw an increase in her salary but has three fewer grade levels to manage.

Also, the District still pays for half of the School Resource Officers, and ALL of the high school athletic coaches are also paid out of the Maintenance and Operations Tax Credits like the other two schools. This accounts for nearly 80 grand, probably two teaching positions.

Yes, folks, that’s our Budget Override money at work. Not quite what the District and all the hype said how the money was going to be spent. Makes you wonder what’s going on at City Hall and the Fire District.

If you are concerned about higher taxes, you will want to vote “No” against Home Rule. On the state level you will also want to vote For Ms. Mason and Mr. Parker, who oppose APS rate hikes.

Whatever you do, please VOTE. Voting is a privilege and a constitutional right that citizens don’t have in some countries. And voter apathy is the Achilles Heel of any democracy that allows a smaller percentage of the population to rule indiscriminately. Please VOTE!

Henry Twombly
Sedona, AZ 86336

For the best Arizona news and views, read www.SedonaEye.com daily!

For the best Arizona news and views, read www.SedonaEye.com daily!


  1. steve segner says:

    The City is proposing a budget of $38 million, when the last time we voted for Home Rule this year’s proposed budget was only $34 million, which was $9 million more than the State would allow.

    People you do not pay a city tax, the cites income come from bed and sales tax and monies from the state,. you live free and cheep in Sedona,.

  2. Small increases but…

    I call it a la carte .
    They will all make is seem minor but do the math.
    Maybe we should start a resident association and become a non profit and not do our paperwork. We could get monetary relief too.
    Yours truly.
    Flatlander Smith

  3. Steve you don’t even live in the City. Your neighbor on Thompson Road OUTSIDE Sedona. Can you explain why your voting?

    Living on Thompson Road is much cheaper and almost FREE and “cheep” compare to the city.

  4. Jean says:

    As Lin Ennis, a former Budget Oversight Commissioner, commented under SEPARATING WHEAT FROM CHAFF, “It is not true that tourism supports the city.”

    Attached to Ron Budnick’s “Budnick for City Council” distribution letter is a “Sedona Tax Origins” breakdown. The findings and data from the Budget Oversight Commission of yore reveal Sedona residents paid 54.2% of City taxes in 2012 and 55.7% in 2011. Residential wastewater fees (taxes) tipped the scale, and they keep going up with no relief in sight. Even the monthly 10% rate increase waived last year by the City Council was negated by its approval of a FY 2013-14 “Cost of Service Adjustment” increase of 10% a month implemented on July 1, 2014. Naturally, Ron Budnick’s findings do not include the heavy taxes levied on property owners by the Fire and the School Districts.

  5. Liked this article on Facebook.

  6. Laura t. West sedona says:

    Get a grip Jean…. You don’t want to pay taxes go live off the grid… Take the other tea party folk with you.. You can dance and sing around a Bon fire cause you saved 1600/a year on fire and school tax… Don’t let the door hit you and the others in the you know what.. Just wondering what the next complaint will be once home rule is voted in again.. The skies the limit!! Go for it

  7. Sedona Sam says:

    We are honored to have Jean living in Sedona. With her background & education she sees and knows the economic impact to a small town of Sedona.

    Ignore the ignorant. We support you. Thank you for disclosing and truthfully sharing the facts.

  8. Carol N. says:

    Wow, “Laura,” from the tone of your comment you might be the one to get a grip. All Jean did was FACTUALLY make a point that residents already are paying more than 50% of city revenue. Have you bothered to check out the spreadsheet to read the real deal or are you too consumed in figuring out new ways to claim entitlements? Oh, poor, poor Laura. Jean, you get my vote and I wish you were running for city council.

  9. @steve segner,

    Interesting that you can remain such an arrogant little guy while your industry, your hotel and you are on the economic ropes. You’re not fooling anyone! The only thing keeping you alive is the fact that you’re on the public dole for now, but…home rule or no home rule, the economy will nullify a vote in favor of it and nullify you as well.

  10. Jean says:

    “Get a grip” is what Steve Segner should do IMO. Thank you, Henry Twombly, for providing some salient facts about the School District’s misuse of taxpayer Budget Override funds.

    Wasteful spending is the name of the game with the City of Sedona, the School District and the Fire District. And who hasn’t seen all the vacant commercial properties in town as a result? Even Kudos threw in the towel and moved to Cottonwood recently because the cost of living in Sedona is too high. Meanwhile, the City is a long way down the road to having as many lodgings as Scottsdale.

    So great Page 1-8 of the City budget states “In three years time there will be no reserves left to fund [non-WW] capital infrastructure projects” and “other funding sources and/or a debt financing strategy must be pursued.” Out-of-towners are no doubt happy they don’t live in Sedona.

    I am a registered Democrat who voted NO on Home Rule.

  11. Jean says:

    “Get a grip” is for Steve Segner IMO. Who hasn’t seen all the commercial vacancies in town that are a result of Sedona’s high cost of living? Even Kudos moved to Cottonwood recently. Overspending and high taxes are harming Sedona’s livability and competitiveness. Very scary.

    Thank you, Henry Twombly, for your great article. I am a registered Democrat who voted NO on Home Rule.

  12. R Walter says:

    Laura, if anyone is living off the grid it’s Steve Segner on Thompson road. I’d bet money you don’t live in Sedona. Everyone who observes and reports the downright fleecing of Sedona businesses and residents by their City representatives is not a tea partyer. To quote Jessica Williams in a city council meeting, “I don’t represent only the voters in Sedona”. That must mean she represents other special interest groups At least that is the truth. The sad thing is,we are all watching the systematic destruction
    of Sedona and those that are living high on the hog off the backs of everyone else really don’t give a —-. This includes the overpaid city manager and his assistant city manager. I don’t have their salaries and benefits at hand, but I’d bet it’s probably double the norm for this size city. I would invite anyone who does have them to post them. Do you have them Laura or Karen or whatever your name is?

  13. Carol N…. No worrys don’t need your so called entitlements.. I’m good.. Must of stuck a nerve with you… You know Fox News doesn’t even use the word entitlement as much as you tea party people here do..

    Yes commercial real estate is vacant frequently here in town which you like to use as a economic gauge.. Perhaps they over built in during the fake real estate boom, plus it hard for a business to stay open that sell BS crap dedicated to tourists and overpriced food in restraunts..

    Oh and by the way…. The only way that sedona sweet arts stays afloat is by catering to tourists and mail order… NOT LOCALS,,, can’t see many people in town eating overpriced cakes and gluten free brownies…

  14. Sorry to burst your bubble @Laura T Sedona Sweet Arts proudly serves LOCAL clients. We “Cater” to the locals. We have served them for over twenty years in our beautiful city. Our local business increases daily. We love visiting with our locals and getting their feedback.

    We also collect sales tax for the City and run a non-profit organization of City businesses that generate both bed and sales tax for the City of Sedona. Who are your city income generators. We are truly non-profit. I personal donate thousands of hours to promote Sedona without any recognition. I believe in community building as a team.

    We chair and sponsor the Sedona Bridal Fair. The Sedona Bridal Fair brings over 6.5 million in economic stimulus to the region. Our entire group is composed of 100% volunteers. We get no funding from the City nor do we pay our Directors. We have all kinds of advertisements running to promote Sedona. Last year we had over 1,000 visitors to the Sedona Bridal Fair and our website get over a million hits. We also have a few more new websites that promotes Sedona completely sponsored by Sedona Sweet Arts.

    The businesses need to market and advertise themselves. The City of Sedona should not be selectively marketing certain businesses. The City needs to stay out of advertising business. IMO

    Please don’t speak for Sedona Sweet Arts – clearly you know nothing about us.

  15. Carol N. says:

    @Laura T. You’ve no idea how flattered I am that I was the sole honoree of your wrath and hostility since all comments since you first posted have, like mine, been in disagreement. This further substantiates my initial analysis. Madame, your lust for entitlements is showing.

  16. Alarmed says:

    According to Sperling’s BEST PLACES, “Compared to the rest of the Country, Sedona (zip 86336)’s Cost of Living is 29.20% Higher than the U.S. average.” Its population change is negative. Sedona’s high Cost of Living has resulted in commercial vacancies and is hurting residents on fixed incomes as well as the working poor.

    Two Marriotts and more traffic congestion are coming to West Sedona. Just what Sedona needs.

  17. Helen C. says:

    Lest we all forget that the City is not the only taxation body we have to deal with:

    Please add into the equation the School District and the Fire Department! Why? Easy: they are adding to all our County and State Tax rates through our property taxes……….not the City. And then please remember that the Community Collages and Counties of Yavapai and Coconino Board of Supervisors just love to raise their taxes to us on way too flimsy rationales all in their lame attempt to gain more money to support their lack of balanced budgets and entitlement programs.

  18. Virginia says:

    For a while now I’ve been following this web site. Informative articles and fascinating comments. Never intended to add one of my own but Laura T. west sedona inspired me to change my thinking.

    The sedona sweet arts (lower case) made me curious so in checking out the phone directory I see where it is located and then I caught the comment from Donna Joy Varney and having attended the Sedona Wedding Fair am now up to date. However I’ve not been into the shop but believe it to be the charming old style architecture over by the mailing place. That alone should serve as an attraction since it isn’t among those that have been converted to the Santa Fe “look.”

    There would be only one thing to prevent me from patronizing though. That being if they are members of the regional Chamber of Commerce. So far I’ve been loyal to shopping local businesses whenever possible but having followed the manipulation that’s gone on the past year, and now the nasty Ms. Laura T., from here on out I will only do business with non-chamber members within the Sedona City Limits. Those who are NOT willing to acquiesce to blackmail to have referrals from that city financed business, the alleged non-profit “Sedona” Chamber of Commerce, will represent creditable establishments in my estimation.

    Thank you.

  19. Helen C says:

    @steve segner
    You wrote: ” you live free and cheep in Sedona,.”

    What Planet are You living on Steve S? “Free and Cheep”? First, I think we all pay sales taxes and county and state taxes, as well as School and Fire District Taxes – so there is nothing for “FREE”

    Next: a baby chicken “cheeps” as it looks for it’s momma. And we definitely are not living “cheep”. Did you mean “Cheap?” …………… or maybe you really did mean that we live “cheep” (as in little chicks) looking for our Momma (local government to pay for our scratch feed? )

  20. Helen C. says:

    What irritates me most is that the owners of the Red Rock News take such vast liberties with their personal and political concepts of they own a “supposed” “News” Paper and keep telling us that they won’t allow US to be Partisan….Yet that’s all they do!!!!! They keep letting us know that they can pay for the ink to polities for their personal issues as they somehow feel that their readership is just dumber than flipping Rocks!!!
    “I can pay for the Ink and WE know more than you dumb folk – — isn’t that the RRN Mantra???

    Call me Crazy – but WHO elected the RRN to determine our votes and our the vast majority of our town feels….Hey Editor……….remember when the voters fought back the crazy ass council concept of owning W89A?

    We all are just sitting in the wings and getting ready to have some more fun with the crazy ass folks that somehow believe they know more that the majority.

  21. Williams AZ voted No on Home Rule and we will do it again, no regrets

  22. mikiri says:

    Helen C.

    I don’t understand what you’re saying about the Red Rock News.

  23. Laura T says:

    Helen C

    If your in the market for an overpriced cake .. Go for it..
    I’ll just go to Basha’s bakery thanks.. They kind of cater to the local blue collar crowd at reasonable prices..

  24. Safeway cakes better than Basha, it’s all in the icing. For special events tho count me down for a Sweet Arts cake (cheap is as cheap serves Helen me babe) and they have the best in town IMO. People Yelped it so.

  25. Laura T says:


    Didnt realize your so well to do that you have so many special events throughout the year. Good for you..

    Just saying that for the majority on this site who complain how broke they are and the TAX burden in town is just too too much to bear.. But spending money on expensive bakery items is ok.. Got you.. We need more business in town that caters to LOCALS not out of towners here for a wedding..

    I hope Sedona Sweet Arts makes many many millions for thier hard word…God bless them, but dont think for a moment that they dont benefit from this tourist location and any marketing this city does for tourists indirectly benefits them.. Not the LOCALS because they dont cater to us except maybe once a year when we need an expensive cake..


  26. @Laura T

    I don’t think that I could stomach Basha’s cakes over Sweet Arts it’s worth paying more. Be forewarned, if you shop there be prepared to put up with the “pity me” attitude.

    2 months back, I sat at the table in Sweet Arts one morning listening to one of the owners bit*h about the COC while I was trying to enjoy my morning coffee while visiting with an out of town friend. We ended up picking up our food and leaving.

    I won’t set foot back in the place again at least until this foolish election is over. I’ll give them one more chance because the cakes were really good.

    home rule * YES!

  27. Carol N. says:

    What am I missing? Have hunted and hunted and find nothing from Helen C. commenting about Sedona Sweet Arts. So how about you misled folks taking your “cheep” shots out on the appropriate person(s). Translated: Look in the mirror.

    None of your camouflaged tripe can conceal your real motive, Save Our Entitlements.

  28. Pam, Sedona says:

    Hi, can you tell me what time polling places open and close?

    (Editor’s note: Arizona polls are open from 6:00 AM until 7:00 PM. Please see tomorrow’s listings under SedonaEye.com Calendar of Events for further information. Thank you for being a good citizen.)

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