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Sedona Mayor Asks Where Do We Go From Here?

Sedona Mayor Rob Adams

Sedona AZ–“The last three years have arguably been the most difficult and challenging times in our City’s history,” Sedona Mayor, Rob Adams writes in a City released letter on Tuesday, August 23, 2011 to Sedona Eye and local news organizations. The Mayor’s letter is printed here in its entirety as received.

“The most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression was exacerbated by the impacts of the construction on State Route 179. I would venture to say that the “Great Recession” has adversely impacted every citizen and business in Sedona.

From my perspective, there is opportunity in difficult times. As Joseph Campbell has said, “Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging.” We have all made adjustments in our lives to adjust to the faltering economy. In many ways, this has given us a different perspective regarding what we need or don’t need or what is important or not important.

The Sedona City government responded to the economic downturn by closely examining and prioritizing how we budget our expenditures. Over an 18-month period beginning in 2008, the City Council and staff cut City expenditures by approximately 30% without eliminating any essential services that provide for the health, safety and welfare of our citizens. We also implemented several actions and programs that will provide long-term sustainable revenue for our City.

Our response to the economic challenge has paid off. The City has consistently balanced its budget during the last three years. Additionally, due to conservative budgeting and stronger than anticipated revenue, the City realized over $1,000,000 in savings in the last fiscal year. The savings account in our General Fund is over 100% of our annual expenditures. Simply put, we are a leaner, more efficient government with a very healthy balance sheet

Now that we have weathered the storm, the question arises, where do we go from here?

We have reduced our government expenditures in response to the economic downturn, but we must continue to look for options to enhance our revenue. Considering that we have over $10,000,000 in our savings account in the General Fund should determine if we want to put a portion of this money to use for the public benefit.

I would like to make a couple of investment suggestions for your consideration. 

Sedona resident Steve Douglas has proposed the idea of promoting Sedona as a Center for Education of the Arts. Instead of trying to copy other arts destinations like Santa Fe, we should create our own model. Under this model, masters in the various art genres such as visual, graphic, culinary and performing arts would be contracted to give multi-day seminars. Our new (Red Rock High School) Performing Arts Center, the various school facilities and the Sedona Arts Center could be ideal host locations. These seminars could also be available to Sedona area residents at a reduced cost.  Sedona has the potential to become the premier destination for Arts Education in the United States

Another idea is to develop an outdoor event venue. The former Cultural Park originated from community support of such a facility. Unfortunately, the future of the Cultural Park is unclear and the time has come to look for alternatives. When looking for an alternative site, issues of parking, noise, traffic and light pollution need to be considered. With that in mind, the Wastewater Plant may offer the best opportunity for an outdoor venue. The City has been working on alternative methods for disposal of our wastewater for several years. We are close to making a decision that could possibly free up approximately 300 acres that are presently being used to sprinkle our wastewater. This site is already owned by the City, would mitigate concerns about traffic, noise and light pollution and would be much more easily engineered and developed than a location within our City limits. The potential for Sedona to become a major event destination is limitless. Consider the success that Telluride has achieved. 

Finally, many Sedona residents have expressed a desire for a community “heart” or center, as well as public access to Oak Creek. Several years ago, the Sedona Women organization supported a visionary idea for a “Heart of Sedona” in the Tlaquepaque, Los Abrigados and Brewer Road area. This idea was largely dependent on the successful purchase and development of the former Forest Service headquarters property by Los Abrigados. Unfortunately, the development has failed and the future of the property is uncertain. The dramatic decline in real estate prices may provide our community with the opportunity to obtain creek front property at a bargain price to fulfill this dream. Imagine a City park with permanent access to Oak Creek for the benefit and enjoyment of our citizens and visitors. It could be a crown jewel in Sedona

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Is this the time that we seize the opportunity?”

Article written and submitted by Rob Adams, City of Sedona Mayor, with the disclaimer Views that I am expressing are my personal opinions and not necessarily the opinion or position of the City of Sedona or the City Council.” Readers comments are welcome. Use the social networking tools below to share the knowledge! Find Sedona Eye and Sedona Times Publishing news articles on Facebook and Twitter @SedonaTimes in real time.

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  1. Eddie S. Maddock says:

    Ambitious ideas, Mayor Rob, and good for you.

    However, entertaining thoughts about doing anything with the former “cultural park” might be dangerous.

    I recall, same as the development at Seven Canyons, our true Native Americans protesting the intrusion on their sacred lands. It’s pretty much been proven they were absolutely correct.

    How about doing the proper thing and returning the cultural park acreage back to the US Forest Service.

    Eddie Maddock

  2. Warren says:

    Typical BS with a heavy dose of hubris.

    The City has raised sewer fees to a ridiculous level — when even before they were raised they were higher than everywhere else nearby. The City has hit businesses with “license fees”. And now people who use the court have to pay “court costs”. All so Rob and the Moronic Convergence (AKA Council) can continue to waste money 6 ways to Sunday.

    And now Rob thinks he’s the Venture Capitalist in Chief?! Too funny. But really too sad for all of us who pay the bills.

  3. Jean Jenks says:

    About the Mayor’s question “Where do we go from here?” For heaven’s sake, let’s forget about the unbridled pursuit of more revenue. The City is making no effort to maintain the full-time residents’ quality of life, an obligation it apparently has no interest in. High-density developments, too many timeshares, ugly lodging expansions (as at L’Auberge), viewshed deterioration, sight-blight, crumbling streets, and sky-high sewer rate increases are just a few travesties that are not in Sedona’s best interest.

  4. Sharon says:

    mayor, ya know that ugly yellow house seen from 89A between airport rd and the Y in the distance? it should BE PAINTED A DIFFERENT COLOR/what a blight on the view/here’s a draft letter for your use;

    Dear Ugly Baby Poop Colored House,
    You ruin the view.
    You are denigrated by tourists.
    Just thought you should know that money didn’t buy your owners class.
    City of Sedona

    and jean is right about l’auberge.

  5. Sedona Job Opportunity, Application says:

    Administrative Assistant-City Manager’s Office – Posted Date: 8/19/2011 Expire Date: 8/19/20119/12/2011 Job Type: Full Time Job Salary: $14.95-$21.54 DOE/DOQ

    The City of Sedona is currently recruiting for the position of Administrative Assistant for the City Manager’s office. This position provides responsible and recurring administrative duties, confidential and complex administrative assistance to the City Manager while also performing routine administrative functions relating to the preparation of correspondence, coordination of management information, arranging meetings and appointments, and making travel arrangements on behalf of the City Manager. Perform special projects and research activities as directed by the City Manager. Also includes duties related to human resources, employee recognition, and citizen complaints with the possibility for career development opportunities. Requires three years of experience, equivalent of completion of twelfth grade. The City of Sedona is a member of ASRS. EOE/ADA.

    Online application preferred. To apply online, click here.

    Other documents available:

    Job description
    Paper application
    Benefits brochure

  6. Emily, west Sedona says:

    Must say I am impressed. Educative. Just want to inform you that you’ve hit the nail on the head by asking for ideas but doubt people will do more than complain.

  7. Paul Boyce says:

    Question for Rob Adams: you say the council has balanced it’s budget. Does that include adequate provisions for pension and retiree health care costs? So many cities and states have played accounting gimmicks with these 2 major expenses. Can you assure us that Sedona has not?

  8. Jim Cunningham, Jr. says:

    Thanks for sharing, Mayor Adams. It’s good to know our savings has increased during lean times, a sign of your fiscally responsible leadership, which I appreciate. I also appreciate and share your vision of a Sedona with a growing and diversified job market, and as a unique destination location offering more than jeep tours and vortexes. We are definitely more than just that and it will take visionaries, willing to brave the storm of naysayers and doomsday prognosticators, to accomplish such a bold vision. Full speed ahead, Mayor!!

  9. Wayne says:

    what about pension question?

    West Sedona Wayne

  10. N. Baer says:

    Convert Sedona’s Red Rock High School into a High School for the Arts!

  11. Steve says:

    N.Baer: Why convert? Doesn’t RRHS function fine with no designation?

    Seems to be doing okay by Patrick and the film festival folks w/o conversion of any sort.

    Why make something complicated that works fine ? What happens to the conversion if the film festival ceases to be here; that’s a possibility in this economy that should be planned on. Harkins can barely sustain 6 theatre screens and there’s little else to do in Sedona except mediocre restaurants and so so bars except in west Sedona.

    Time to tell the truth. The Chamber can hype to tourists all it wants but we live the Sedona reality. No growth engine here. It’s all service and low paying jobs and that includes the art scene artists. First Fridays have limited appeal and typically very few locals. Van Gogh economic lesson 101 – death gives a starving artist hope that his art is special but Sedona art scene does not do much for Sedona business wallets. Wishing won’t make it different.

  12. E.S. Maddock says:

    Hey kids. To my knowledge the funding for the school DISTRICT expands beyond Sedona City Limits. Same as the fire DISTRICT. Therefore, why should Sedona have exclusive say about the use of the high school and/or performing arts center?

    Is it fair or appropriate for the Sedona City Council to approve funding for events related to the school system in general when the scope of financing that venue expands beyond city limits?

    How about cutting to the chase here and discuss just exactly the source of funding for the high school and related educational institutions which, to my recollection, is voter approval of bonds for specific improvements.Therefore, is it exclusively Sedona’ s decision or financial obligation as might be the case in other issues currently on the table?

    Visionaries seem to have no parameters relating to their dreams in relation to whom will be footing the bill. Wish that idealist approach worked for me in my daily scheme of plans.

    Eddie Maddock

  13. N. Baer says:

    Steve and Eddie – First of all, you should know that the gallery owners and artists here think Sedona is an art destination. I say carry that further and dedicate more of our institutions to that cause. Converting the high school to specialize in the arts would further the City’s commitment to the arts. Having a handful of events occurring throughout the year at the performance center not only will not pay the bills, but keeps the facility “dark” most of the time. There should be productions and rehearsals going on continously. Converting the high school would protect the City’s investment and would insure that the performing arts center would be utilized 24/7. It would not necessarily exclude the “district.” It would not necessarily impact the sacred Sedona International Film Festival, unless it were poorly managed as the Cultrual Park was.

    Let’s have some imagination instead of nay saying.

  14. E.S. Maddock says:

    No nay saying, Nancy, just the facts. The City of Sedona does not own the high school. It is property of the Sedona Oak Creek Unified School District, simple as that, whereby the entire district encomassing the greater area of Sedona deserves a say in the matter.

    If the Village of Oak Creek had wanted to be included in Sedona City Limits they wouldn’t have opted out, indicating they do not want the Sedona City Council making their decisions nor do the others in the Red Rock Loop Area, including Elmersville, as they, too, removed themselves from the originally proposed boundaries of incorporation.

    I neither agree nor disagree with your concept. Imagination is one thing but unfortunately tends to deviate from reality.

    Eddie Maddock

  15. Mike Schroeder, Sedona says:

    MYTHS vs. FACTS – Maintaining 89A

    MYTH: Pundits state that if the City of Sedona takes back Highway 89A in West Sedona the city does not have the capability or budget to maintain and rebuild such a roadway.

    FACT: The City of Sedona already maintains over 100 miles of roads, so they do have experience in scheduled maintenance. The “proposed take back” section of 89a is 4.8 miles which would account for about 8% of the budget considering 89a is a 5 lane road. The Sedona City Manager confirmed that this can be managed by the existing budget. NOTE: Pavement maintenance is a separate budget item from street maintenance (cleaning, etc.)

    MYTH: The cost per mile of the new SR 179 and the redoing of 89A cost per mile will be the same.

    FACT: Patently false. The SR179 project included a NEW ADDED roadbed with bridges, hill cuts, support walls, roundabouts, land acquisitions and new sidewalks. A redo to dirt on 89a (required every 30-35 years) requires none of that.

    MYTH: The city does not have the capability or expertise to rebuild a road.

    FACT: The City does not rebuild a roadway ANYMORE than ADOT rebuilds a roadway. Both consult engineers, specifications are written, requests for proposals are issued, and a professional contractor is hired. Just like ADOT does it. The city, like ADOT simply manages the contract for compliance.

    Our city government and its departments are responsible, professional and competent.

    The CITIZENS of Sedona and our ELECTED council should work together to make West Sedona’s corridor a place of beauty, integrated with our local businesses like so many other resort communities. We cannot allow our town to be managed by outsiders.

    It is OUR City, OUR Future, and OUR Choice. Vote YES to Measure 410.

    Mike Schroeder
    Sedona AZ

  16. Sam says:

    Preach it my brother

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