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Sedona Defund the Chamber Petition

Sedona Eye Defund Chamber

Sign this petition to defund the Sedona Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau today. The City of Sedona has paid the Sedona Chamber 15.3 million dollars since 2014. The current policy is NOT working for our communities.

February 22, 2022 – The following is a letter to the SedonaEye.com editor:

Defunding the Chamber is a request to change the public policy for tourism management.

Watching Sedona City Council meetings and workshops is exhausting. Our city council and staff spend thousands of hours in meetings with the regional Sedona Chamber of Commerce. These meetings run 3-4 hours each time. The resources used are easily 2-4 million dollars a year.

Defunding the Chamber translates to less confusion, less mayhem, a lot less work, and creates a target aligning the City of Sedona with their jurisdictional boundaries.

The City of Sedona has paid the Sedona Chamber 15.3 million dollars since 2014. We all see and feel the results of “regional marketing and management.” Our businesses, residents, visitors are burdened and are paying for the Chamber to play with public funding. The current policy is NOT working for our communities.

Defunding the Chamber would bring the policy in house, 100% controlled by the city management. The ideal policy would be modeled after the Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT) policies and would mirror cities that have a City Office of Tourism with a Tourism Advisory Council (TAC), the industry standard for Municipalities: It is fair, balanced, enables positive cost saving improvements for our community and would bring the City of Sedona tourism policy in line with other destination cities.

The ideal city “Office for Tourism” would bring our community together by having representation exclusive in-city businesses “Tourism Advisory Council” (TAC) creating policy, process and procedures for city council to OVERSEE and approve.

The City Council would no longer be trying to control an organization that does not align with Sedona city limits. At the July 28, 2021, City Council meeting Candace Carr Strauss, CEO Sedona Chamber stated, “Chamber Board of Directors is the body that determines the scope of work.” Why should our city council have to barter for services paid to a vendor?

The ideal policy, process, and procedure can be tweaked and grown in a transparent way. The Sedona City Council and staff won’t have to rebuild the program every year dealing with the revolving door of council, staff, and a Chamber board of directors. Performance metrics, research, reports and performance dashboards can continuously guide management in the right way. Growing and improving year after year. Collateral and assets would be owned by the City of Sedona.

It would be fun, exciting, making an engaging positive solution for the City of Sedona, our area communities, while creating a fair and balanced playing field.Please reach out to friends, family, customers and businesses. Share the petition, explain the details, share this letter and be part of the SOLUTION. Let the City Council know you care and want change.

As my wise father told me, “It doesn’t matter who you like when it comes to public funding.”

https://www.change.org/p/sedona-city-council-defund-the-chamber

Donna Varney
Sedona AZ

 

63 Comments

  1. West Sedona Dave says:

    So they hire a ad firm from NY, how long will it take for people to complain about that company and the money being “given away”….If you aint complaining, your not happy!

  2. Michael says:

    Another totally off the rails attempt to defund the Chamber. How in the name of sanity would defunding the Chamber lead to less hours of input and less work on the part of the city.

    In these times isn’t is hard enough for businesses in the town to get dishwashers and retail clerks, but Sedona will find the personnel to manage our tourism advertising?

    And with the costs of living in the community skyrocketing who will move here for a $50,000 job? Or for that matter 10-20 $50,000 jobs.

    I love Sedona and want other people everywhere to see and experience its wonder.

    I find the traffic, very tolerable on 89A from Cottonwood to Sedona and if not for the idiots that didn’t allow SR179 to be two lanes. What can I say , you reap what you sowed.

    Sedona has weathered Covid amazingly. Let the Chamber continue it fine work of getting the word out.

    Sedona is here and says hello

  3. mshobert says:

    If you get what you want – you WILL pay a lot more taxes. Complaining all the time – about everything – must be awkward.

  4. Etienne Roche, Ottawa says:

    Another straw man comment, keep up the good work petition signers, do not be dissuaded.

  5. Joel says:

    @Micheal defund the chamber means to Stop marketing the city needs to work on impacts of tourism.
    The city is paying chamber to educate the residents. BS. How about they use the current employees? They have added 44% since they started marketing. Residents are leaving..all they do is tourism management.

  6. JJ says:

    We have the laziest city government ever. But they get paid like royalty. Already have 44% increase in number of employees since our City Manager came on board. Great job. No need to hire anymore to manage tourism. No need to promote tourism. Just work with what you already have. Very simple.

  7. Simon says:

    Poor State of Union. He’s out of touch. I’m Democrat. Household of 5 Democrats and four give thumbs down and one doesn’t give a damn at all and won’t ever care to vote again. Nobody wore masks while California still makes kids wear them. Massless Hypocrites got 5 thumbs down.

    He called on Chamber to boycott overseas jobs and support America only. All words and no teeth because we’ve heard it before and Democrats policies always favor overseas. 3 thumbs down, one didn’t care, and one was walking the dog when vote taken.

  8. Sedona Aliyah says:

    Please sign this beautiful spirit filled petition and thank you Donna Varney for your care.

  9. Jon says:

    Sedona Aliyah says:
    March 2, 2022 at 1:16 pm
    Please sign this beautiful spirit filled petition and thank you Donna Varney for your care.

    Hearing your call. Namaste.

  10. Sean says:

    sigh it dammit they’re on the run (Deleted by editor)

  11. BT says:

    340 signed
    keep it up
    you got this

  12. BT says:

    342 signed then up to 352 today
    keep it up
    you got this chamber of commerce running scared

  13. Jim Chapel says:

    @BT it’s 375 and taking off each day so spread the good news that help is here! You know you can send this post to people and ask for signatures?

  14. Rick says:

    Amazing how an editorial can scramble complacency and inspire residents to sign a petition asking for good governance and an explanation of where 15.3 million given to the Sedona Chamber of Commerce during 2014-2021 went and why. @ Donna Varney @Ann Kelley @ Eddie Maddock hear the city begin to rouse from a misinformation stupor.

  15. Don says:

    @petition signers DEFUND the Chamber and take our city assets back >&lt says 389 now. You’ll get ahead that way.

    Standing with Ukraine.

  16. Evan says:

    How about 394 ?! Go sedona times!!!

  17. Allamanda says:

    Birdie tells us 409 now get to the bus for a ride yahoos

  18. mshobert says:

    How many of you petitioners – reside outside the city limits? I’m guessing ~90%. That gives you like 41 legitimate signatures. You are losers. Get real. Enjoy your golden years. Look at yourselves. SMH.

  19. @mshobert says:

    Thanks Karen We think the same of you. You can add lazy to your title (Deleted by editor)

  20. Evan says:

    420 with sedona times !!

  21. VOC Residents says:

    So if “mshobert” has questions relating to those who sign the petition – whether or not they live within Sedona City Limits – then why not ask the chamber of commerce how many of “their” members are outside that area?

    As proprietors of a small VOC business AND “chamber” members, we are delighted the city pays the C of C to promote US as members of that “regional” organization. And we contribute nothing directly to your great overblown “City of Sedona” tax base.

    Thank you very much for being so gracious to those of us smart enough to avoid being part of that “city” government but definitely reap nice benefits from your generosity. Keep up the good work misnamed “Sedona” Chamber of Commerce. What a hoot.

  22. Jj says:

    Time to dig out old skeletons in closet. Pitiful excuse.4 city manager.

  23. @evan says:

    “With sedona times(lol). How delusional

  24. Brian says:

    Mshobert I think @Evan is right, Sedona Eye or Times brought it to my attention, not city or county or those other blogs. Join the 426 petitioners and sign your real name.

  25. Drane Borkowski says:

    432 and climbing. Sedonans and friends are putting a spit shine on truth and consequence for Chamber and city.

  26. @VOC residents says:

    Don’t worry we’ll absorb you peons and make you pay taxes that you keep stealing from our budget by using our city name on your delusional pieces of dirt and wannabe businesses.

  27. @voc residents says:

    Ypu are a BS Artist… you’ve been Spouting that same lie for years now.”I’m a VOC business owner reaping benefits from the Chamber while I contribute nothing to tax base”. Your just an angry lying Old women! Lol Time to break out my VOC business owner rant again. Lol

  28. VOC Residents says:

    [So if “mshobert” has questions relating to those who sign the petition – whether or not they live within Sedona City Limits – then why not ask the chamber of commerce how many of “their” members are outside that area?]

    Asked and waiting for answer.

  29. Donna says:

    The Sedona Chamber claims 725 members.

    From this 725 only 4% collect City bed taxes that includes members that are Hotels & Short Term Rentals (STRs).

    CITY TOURISM RELATED is only 25% of Chamber members.

    The Balance of 71% are NON-TOURISM BUSINESSES – regional members.

    NOTE: The Chamber members include marketing STR MANAGEMENT companies, STR’s, Real Estate, Attorneys,Churches,clubs and more.

    How do we know they are not marketing to investors?

    Please join in and sign the petition.
    https://www.change.org/p/sedona-city-council-defund-the-chamber/dashboard

  30. Brian says:

    city council, guess 437 sends you a message right?

  31. mshobert says:

    437 Signatures? Big deal – and – they DO NOT count, if you don’t live in the city. Pure genius.

  32. Mark, Sedona says:

    @mshobert
    FINALLY! You do then support @donna comment that “Sedona Chamber claims 725 members of which only 4% collect City bed taxes that includes members that are Hotels & Short Term Rentals (STRs)”. Finally! light at city hall is being left on while passing regulations and budgets. Your number means only 29 members represent income value to the city coffers while expending multi millions of its revenue stream.

    Repeat. We’re finally on same page to defund the chamber.

  33. mshobert says:

    Not exactly… You need the chamber! Bring in more drivers for that silly “$54,000,000.00 parking lot,” – that you VoC’ers – wanted and got.

    Own it, for once. – Village of Oak Creek – Voice of Choice – Very Old Cronies – VOC.

    W/O the Chamber – YOU pay more taxation.

  34. Terri says:

    It’s 444. Stay the course!

  35. Rick, Sedona says:

    @mshobert
    It would be helpful if you had a college degree or had been schooled in finances and economics. No, with the chamber, council and staff caused taxes to be added to every Sedona purchase.
    Since residents live here, they are then penalized far more often than visitors. Visitors expenditures are conveniently extrapolated over a broader number of people which gives the appearance that they are our bread and butter.
    Get rid of the chamber albatross, lower the tax rate to 8%, and stop gifting money. You’re not understanding the basics and it’s deliberate, evidenced by your constant advocacy for poor performance and poorer planning. Sedona has begun to lose her luster and it is management’s fault.

  36. mshobert says:

    @Rick,

    Why don’t you run for council, better yet – run for mayor!?

    You apparently have it all figured out, but obviously you are too – meh, meek, weak, and mild, to stand-up, and step-up.

  37. Shelly, Uptown says:

    I agree with “defunding” the Chamber but this particular petition is not well designed because simply shifting money to city control won’t improve things.

    But here’s what’s important folks. A petition won’t do anything. The only way you can change things is to VOTE. And one way to send a really big message is to vote against Home Rule in the upcoming primary election.

    One thing a lot of people don’t know is that if you are not registered as an R or D … if you’re registered as an Independent … you won’t even receive a primary ballot UNLESS YOU REQUEST ONE. The city claims it moved the Home Rule election to the primary ballot to save money, but the real reason is that by moving it to the primary ballot, there are fewer people who can vote on the issue, simply because they don’t know they need to request a primary ballot.

    I, for one, am going to vote against Home Rule for the first time ever. Simply because I am fed up with the Chamber situation and so many other poor decisions made by the city staff and the city council members.

    Vote “no” on Home Rule. In order to vote No, people who are not registered with the R or D parties must REQUEST a primary ballot. Visit the Az Secy of State office for more info: https://azsos.gov/votebymail

  38. @ Shelly says:

    Well you have a few points…The largest part you’re missing is if you use the CC or a ad firm from Phoenix the money MUST BE SPENT!

    Let me repeat…..The city is bound by state law to give that money away for advertising!

    So it has nothing to do with Home Rule!…..

  39. Donna says:

    The city council requested the Chamber to “halt all marketing” last year, apparently the chamber continued to do so.

    Since the Chamber is not part of city, not a government, not a Tourism Authority District is the reason to defund the chamber.

    Defunding the chamber means no more handouts to chamber. $15.3 million of city taxes have been gifted to the chamber 2014-2021 The City would KEEP the TAXES

  40. Shelly, Upton says:

    You are incorrect that the city must spend money on advertising. Read the law.

    The city is bound by state law to spend a portion of tourism revenues on “promotion” of tourism. The law does not dictate (a) how much money the city may want to collect or (b) what defines “promotion.”

    Promotion does not have to mean advertising or even marketing in general. You could spend money to promote tourism by implementing some of the ideas offered by Sedona residents during the “Sustainable Tourism” effort that had nothing to do with marketing or advertising and a lot to do with improving our community by redirecting our tourism dollars. But … wait! The Sustainable Tourism effort has now completely disappeared! The reason it has disappeared is that it was never a sincere effort by the former Chamber CEO and former City Manager. It was simply a phony attempt to mollify us and make us think they cared about our opinions.

    There is a reason the former CEO and City Manager got the heck out of dodge: The state attorney general had started sniffing around some of their activities. Suddenly, they both decided they had better offers, at pretty much the exact same time. After they had repeatedly told us they were committed to our town. Yeah, right.

    But, again, my point is that the only thing matters is how we vote. The only thing.

    Most of the candidates in our elections are the same old folks. The only thing that will get the city’s attention is money. Or the lack thereof.

    If you want to vote against Home Rule, you must vote in the primary election. If you are not registered as an R or a D, you will not even receive a primary ballot unless you specifically ask for one.

  41. @ Shelly says:

    THE MONEY NEEDS TO BE SPENT…..WHAT PART IS CONFUSING TO YOU?

    HOME RULE MEANS NOTHING!

  42. Gene says:

    @uptownshelley said ask for voting

    Is that city voting or state voting? What’s the number to call?

  43. Anna Lee, Sedona AZ says:

    Am proud to see 468 names on petition. Good job, Donna Varney and friends.

  44. mshobert says:

    Funny, – T & L Magazine – just named Sedona in their top 50 places to travel (#42), in 2022. And Sedona is much cheaper than Belize!!! Haa! “We need more parking spots!” The self-fulfilling prophecy. “Complain enough – and and it may come.” You need to change strategy. You already lost, again.

  45. Lola says:

    Travel and Leisure is a paid advertorial magazine. Don’t crow loudly because it listed San Francisco higher and it’s a slum pit with homeless crap taking up parking spaces.

  46. Sedona Keith says:

    The city council asked Sedona Chamber to halt all advertising and they continued to do so. They need investigating now. That’s my money they’re spending and I don’t like what’s being done with it.

  47. Wayne Gets It Do You says:

    Petition 474 now (4% of chamber members getting shafted by 96% chamber takers)

  48. @ Keith says:

    Were do you get off saying its your money? Are you that ignorant? You have no clue how any type of government is run with such a stupid comment!

    Im sick of war and the military industrial complex, yet thousands get spent on it….That money your complaining about is 100% tourist paid money…Unless your having an affair behind your loved ones back and need to get a room!

  49. B Shields says:

    Yeah, not wild about city government supporting business and tourism interests over the city’s dwellers and residential property owners, ever.

  50. Sue Laman says:

    Ditto Keith

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