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Sedona City Council Spends More Saves Less

sedona jobs accountingSedona AZ (June 24, 2013) – In a letter to the SedonaEye.com editor, a Sedona resident writes:

Dear Editor,

Best not be fooled by the Mayor’s statement in the recent Community Connection newsletter that “the city has enjoyed operating surpluses for the last four years.”  The General Fund operating reserves comprise approximately one-third of the city’s entire budget. Moreover, they have been boosted by favorable events during recent years.

Shocking as it is, the Council is spending $8.3M more this year than last and saving $7.2M less. Next fiscal year’s estimates of $26,684,308 in Collections and $36,145,299 in Budgeted Expenses are hot off the press.

$2,170,221 of the $9,460,991 non-enterprise related negative balance will be filched from restricted Wastewater Enterprise Fund Reserves. 

Looking back to earlier years:  The annual 17% sales tax allocation from the General Fund operating reserves to the Capital Fund was terminated four or more years ago. At about the same time, over $800K was transferred into the General Fund operating reserves from the Capital Fund.

Sedonans were told non-WW capital projects such as streets and drainage would have to compete with other General Fund projects. Naturally, operating reserves began to increase. Annually increasing wastewater fees and decreasing the 46% General Fund sales tax distribution to the WW Enterprise Fund is also serving to boost operating reserves.

Today the public is hearing Capital Fund money will be gone after the end of next fiscal year and that unless there’s an operating surplus when future years end (excluding the 50% reserve requirement), NO FUNDS will be available for non-WW capital projects such as streets and drainage.

Quite a shameful, absolutely unacceptable bait and switch, right?

At a Budget Workshop in April the Mayor brought up the subject of General Obligations Bonds going on the Nov. 2014 ballot to tax property owners.

The City Council must not approve spending one penny more than the Collections estimate of $26,684,308 when adopting the FY 2013-2014 Budget.

Jean Jenks
Sedona AZ
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. Jean,

    This is a super letter you’ve written. Might I add that Council and Staff are well aware that they are taking the WWE Fund towards insolvency which will eventually result in the city’s inability to maintain and upgrade our wastewater treatment plant. Nevertheless, because I’ve heard the Mayor say it publicly more than once, the city thinks it will simply replenish the WWE Fund with the proceeds of a General Obligation Bond issue dated at any time in the future that Staff directs.

    This is pure unadulterated folly! What he doesn’t say is that 1.] G.O. Bonds, due to a statutory requirement, have to be secured with a property tax (which, if unpaid, can result in a lien filing against the property of the delinquent taxpayer) and 2.] the G.O. Bond Issuer, namely, the city, still has to have a qualified bond (credit) rating which this city is already close to losing before anymore bad economic news hits.

    So, this is a high-stakes poker game the city is playing against the economy and bond market while we, the people, are expected to pay for the chips to enable the city to stay in the game.

  2. Jean says:


    I’ve heard the Mayor say at least twice that GO-Bonds will be needed to pay for non-WW capital projects in the future, most recently during the Budget Workshops in April. The fact is, the Council is faced with running out of money for non-WW capital projects beyond next fiscal year.

    By the way, during its April 26th Workshop the Council approved pilfering $10 million from the WW Enterprise Fund ($2M/year for each of the next 5 years) to pay for non enterprise-related projects such as streets and drainage.

    The WW fund balance as of the end of April is $21,037,321. And beginning July 1st, residential WW fees will increase once again. At the Council Retreat last December, paying for capital projects was a very huge Council concern, not WW fund finances.

    Reducing the General Fund sales tax contribution to the WW fund from 46% to 25% over time and pilfering from the WW Enterprise fund to pay for non-enterprise related projects such as streets and drainage may result in the City’s inability to maintain and upgrade our WW treatment plant in the long run. However, the City can always delay this type of outcome by raising monthly WW rates for the 60% of us on the sewer to $100 per month or more.

    At the Council Retreat in December, residential sewer rates of $100/month were discussed. The Council has already ordered a WASTEWATER RATE STUDY.

  3. Paul says:

    It’s a relief to read substantive news and opinions in today’s world of laughable news. I’m disgusted with the 20-30-40 somethings and news drug heads that produce major networks and newspapers news. Who bothers to watch CNN, even ultra liberal comedians make fun of its insanity? Too much Sesame Street information delivery systems in effect today masquerading as intelligence.

  4. Paul B says:

    Jean, you seem well informed of the shenanigans that city council and staff engage in. Have you ever studied the pension and retiree healthcare benefit situation of the city? It seems like so many cities are in deep trouble because of the unsustainable position they find themselves in. Is Sedona in the same boat?

  5. LBD says:

    kinda have a new take on how our city spends more to save less – seems the city, in all their wisdom – hired a company to photograph the interiors of all our sewer lines.

    so I get a call from a friend of mine, at 8 pm tonight (Saturday night), telling me there is this big truck in her neighborhood, with great flashing lights, 2 or 3 guys in attendance, and they are using laser lights to do something no one is quite sure of, and what ever, to do the camera view of that sewer line and main on her property.

    She is not aware that there are any, I repeat Any, deep dark sewer issues going on in her neighborhood. believe she told me every one is still flushing just fine.

    excuse me???!!! Saturday night??? (can we assume that is double time in pay?). from what I know the truck has been there for well over 2 hours and making no signs of leaving.

    oh plz lets make sure our sewer lines are working and being checked out on a Saturday nite, as our ducky ponds get new picnic tables etc…..oh well, nuff said

    guess this is the very best of our council choices.

  6. Pathetic says:

    Speaking of wasteful spending, as City Council prepares to increase sales & bed taxes at the end of July, not only does Chamber of Commerce and Lodging Council continue to solicit local businesses to support this tax increase (yes, door to door now folks) not to mention their plea to “Shop Local – Shop Sedona,” they’ve neglected to publicize their OWN ON-LINE RETAIL STORE!!!!!

    Check it out folks.


    By selling this stuff online aren’t they in fact competing with local stores and merchants they claim to be supporting?

    Here they are, selling videos of Sedona, products of local talent, and they want city funding to make their own. Not to mention T-shirts and visor caps which are staple offerings to tourists from legitimate merchants.

    Why aren’t local businesses raving maniacs about this ongoing but very successful scam to rip off everyone in Sedona . . . residents, tourists, AND businesses? Aren’t people aware?

    Wake up Sedona!

  7. Ben says:

    In response to Pathetic:

    Thank You for pointing out the Chamber of Commerce website. You’re right, selling caps & T-shirts does seem to be in direct competition to our local stores.

    But, I would like to take this one step further. I also checked out Their ‘2013 Super Pass for $8’, which says on the page “Shop Sedona Local Deals & Coupons”, in which there is a long list of participants which include (to mention a Few):

    Dairy Queen (Oak Creek Canyon)
    Manzanita Restaurant (Cornville)
    M Diamond Ranch (Lake Montezuma)
    Oak Creek Vineyard and Winery (Cornville)
    Grand Canyon Dinner Theatre & Steakhouse (Tusayan)

    Now I’m not the brightest rock in the box, but even I know that sending people out-of-town to enjoy a meal, is in direct opposition to our local restaurants that we are supposed to be supporting, as well as sending any collected sales tax out-of-town.

    Just wondering, is our City of Sedona the only one that’s paying the Chamber to promote them?

    Mayor, Council, City, are You watching where OUR money is being spent?

  8. LBD says:

    Thanks Ben for your research and listing of the out of town business’s that will benefit from our city monies/increased taxes going to chamber.

    and talking about more waste of money by the city and their dole of tax money to the chamber – Hey everyone – let’s think this through: not only is chamber sending money outside of our town (with their $8 booklet of discounts) they also are running a scam of asking the city to increase sales tax and after checking out the above “Pathetic” link – they are now in the retail business and competing with all the shops in town – check it out yourself.

  9. Paul says:

    Quick drive through city is startling. Businesses closed and lease or sale signs everywhere. Is Staples staying? Pet Smart may have one customer every now and again, indicator they’ll be leaving that big store for better commercial clime? Biddles, Pita Fresh, Airport Road Round Building Tourist stop, Relics closing with more pizza parlors than good restaurants! Economy? Yes. Poor city planning? Yes. City economic bust? Likely.

  10. Ricky says:

    Hey Paul, I so totally agree with your take on all the shuttered doors and those who well may close in our business community! Are you sure about the closings of Biddle’s, Pita Fresh, Relics etc? That is frightening to say the least.

    So let me ask you a question: how do you think all the new tax’s Council, Chamber and Lodging Council (the Big 3) are pushing for will play into economic security or will it be a bigger bust?

    By the way: the “Big 3” stands for “Bunch of Ignorant Greedy” 3″ gov and non profits – who don’t want to use their own money. they only want to use all our monies to get their wants to happen – they want us and our visitors to pay for their follies and they truly believe they are smarter than any of us? Wow!

    I can balance my budget in order to pay for new improvements at my house or business – as I hold down spending someplace else. New concept? Hardly – isn’t it called living within one’s means?

  11. Jean says:

    Paul B., sorry I haven’t had a chance to delve into the pension and employee healthcare benefit situation.

    City employees come under the State of AZ pension system. Police pensions, the only exception, are the City’s responsibility.

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