Home » From The Readers, Letters to the Editor » Sedona Council Raises Sewer Rate

Sedona Council Raises Sewer Rate

Sedona AZ (August 25, 2016) – The following is a letter to the SedonaEye.com editor:

question mark 4

Who knew?

What’s the story behind the current 4% monthly Wastewater rate increase for the 60% of us on the sewer?

Eliminating the 4% rate increase for this fiscal year was an issue before the City Council last April 27th. No one from the Public commented during the Council Meeting. Who knew?

Instead of a separate item on the City Council agenda, the 405-page Proposed Budget Fiscal Year 2016-17, submitted to the Council via Justin Clifton’s City Manager MEMO of April 21, 2016, contained a “Wastewater Fund Analysis – Reduction in Sales Tax Subsidy” MEMO from Assistant City Manager Karen Daines (now Osborn) of the same date. The 4% Wastewater rate increase suspension matter was embedded.

The Proposed Budget/MEMOS were posted on the City Council’s web pages on Monday afternoon, April 25, 2016, a little more than one (working) day before the Wednesday/Thursday 8:00 a.m. Special Budget Work Session began. So much for time to attempt to delve into the humongous document’s minutiae.

Forty percent of city of Sedona homes in 2016 remain without a city sewer connection

Forty percent of Sedona remains without a city sewer connection

As stated in Karen’s April 21st MEMO: “The 2013-2014 Wastewater Rate Study and Financial Plan [from an independent rate consultant], adopted by City Council in May 2014, planned for the 30% subsidy to be reduced to 25% in fiscal year 2018.” She stated that by taking the 5% reduction one year early approximately $776,000 in sales taxes would NOT be allocated to the Wastewater Fund, but retained as additional revenue in the General Fund “that allows the City to fund additional streets rehabilitation projects and allocate funds for future City [non-sewer] capital needs.” Not shared in her MEMO was that the Wastewater Fund would receive $450,000 less from eliminating the 4% rate increase.

On the revenue side: Over the last three years, sales tax allocations to the Wastewater Fund exceeded projections by $1.86 Million, while gains in Wastewater charges for service resulted in an excess of $620,000. For all five years of the 2013-2014 Wastewater Rate Study, there’s an unanticipated Wastewater debt service interest savings of $1.57 Million as a result of the refinances of the Series 2004 and Series 2005 excise tax bonds, as well as an unforeseen $4 Million from a slower rate of spending for Wastewater capital projects. According to Karen’s MEMO: “The overall additional funding available in the Wastewater Fund over the [her] three-five year analysis is $4.05 Million.”

There was not a whisper during the April 27, 2016 Budget Work Session about the $776,000 revenue loss to the Wastewater Fund from reducing the General Fund sales tax allocation by 5% one year early. Yet the City Manager and Assistant City Manager spoke strongly against eliminating the 4% rate increase for the current fiscal year (a $450,000 loss). This although additional revenues were coming in, sales taxes went up 13% over budget, and the Wastewater Fund Balance was several million above projections.

The annual 4% sewer rate increases through 2018 were approved via City ordinance by a prior Council when it adopted the 2014 Wastewater Rate Study.

F.Y.I., City Manager Clifton even brought up “what the future regulatory environment might look like.”

BY MAJORITY CONSENSUS [Ref. April 27, 2016 Action Item List] Council agreed to reduce the sales tax subsidy to the Wastewater Fund from 30% to 25% one year early and to maintain the 4% rate increase for this fiscal year. No Motion and Second made, and no written record kept of Council members for and against the rate increase. Ditto for the numerous other budget issues.

Transparency, meaningful disclosure and lack of bias be damned?

Jean Jenks
Sedona AZ

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

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


  1. Mary C says:

    You mean, City council raised residents fees and did not want their names on the hike?

    Sales tax revenue went up, but instead of lowering sewer rates as they promised, they raised the residents sewer rates and gave more money to the Chamber of commerce?


  2. @Mary C. says:

    You ain’t seen nothin’ yet…just wait until this city and staff get their hooks into us for monthly garbage collection bills. And that Steve Segner, head of the Lodging Council who was so instrumental in getting that contract with the city and the chamber – well, he is in the process of promoting this city garbage takeover and he doesn’t even live in incorporated Sedona. Speaking of corrupt?

  3. Donna L says:

    Transparency? Right. With each other, not us.

  4. Norma says:

    Thank you Jean for letting us know. We need and appreciate you. Thank you for this article on Sedonaeye!

  5. Jess Lookin says:

    What, no comments from those with their hand in the till?

    No comment Jennifer? No comment Steve? No comment Karen? Could the Sedona chamber survive without the $2,000,000 from the City? If so, they should return the money and balance the city budget.

  6. N. Baer says:

    Too bad and so sad about Council’s mis-actions. I sure hope early voters have remembered all the waste of time and money when casting ballot for “new” council.

  7. Cody K/Denis L says:

    Somebody did care!

    SedonaEye.com Election Central Results for Sedona City Council and Mayor Preliminary Vote Result says:
    August 30, 2016 at 11:20 pm

    Number of Precincts
    Precincts Reporting
    Vote For 3

    Total Votes

    Number of Precincts
    Precincts Reporting
    Vote For 1
    Total Votes

    Number of Precincts
    Precincts Reporting
    Vote For 1
    Total Votes

  8. sharlett says:

    Really need to change the topic of the above: Why?

    Because our City Manager and Staff and Council, over the years, have set their financial approval, votes and direction towards Injection Wells for our sewer treated effluent disposal system….right?

    Do we also recall the cost of those “injection” wells that council approved?

    Now, in Oklahoma, where they just had a 5.7 earthquake and many aftermath quakes…….they, in this short period of time, determined that their wastewater injection wells are why they suffered the earthquakes.

    so my point is that we are paying for injection wells to be tested and constructed and we had an earthquake here several months ago….that rocked and rolled my home.

    I suggest we just keep spraying the treated effluent as it harms no one and we surly don’t need development or tourism or what ever on the lands that we need to continue to Spray our treated effluent on.

  9. Bad JuJu Redux says:

    whiny lin ennis back then & whiny sharlett today whine whine whine on https://sedonaeye.com/wastewater-rates-increased-by-sedona-city-council/

  10. @Sharlett says:

    I don’t know if what you’re saying it true but it make a lot of sense.

    Instead of spouting off on SI why don’t you tell one of those new city councilors that we just voted into office and lets see what they’re made of. Or better yet, why not take a 3 minute period at a council meeting and tell everyone, if what you’re saying is true of course.

  11. Brewer says:

    Reason Council doesn’t want to spray is they want to develop. A Conflict. Duh. Happy Labor Day.

  12. H.T. says:

    Good idea, fill time slots at council meetings with science about wastewater injection issues. Fill time slots with questions about agenda items. Smart meters. It’s videotaped. Get the Councilors on record about everything.

Leave a Reply

Copyright © 2008-2017 · Sedona Eye · All Rights Reserved · Posts · Comments · Facebook · Twitter ·