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Tourists Contribute Less Than 50% to City Tax Revenue

Sedona AZ (January 28, 2015)The following is a letter to the SedonaEye.com editor:


sedona jobs accounting tax dollar bill book calculatorCOMPREHENSIVE ANNUAL FINANCIAL REPORT
Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2014

CAFR Presentation & Discussion, 1/27/15
Sedona City Council Agenda Item 9.a.
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2015 08:51:23 -0700

Hello Mayor Moriarty and Councilors,

Unfortunately, I believe the first sentence under Economic Outlook Retail Sales on Page iv of the CAFR’s Letter of Transmittal from the City Manager and Assistant City Manager is non-factual and biased.


Isn’t it a canard to state “…the economy is heavily driven by tourism and the generation of sales taxes from tourism related activities…“? The disbanded Budget Oversight Commission did not cherry pick. Hence, its findings failed to support this conclusion about Sedona’s economy. In addition to City sales, bed and sewer taxes and fees, State vehicle license tax, gas tax, income tax and sales tax allocations relating to residents were included in Commissioner Ron Budnick’s calculations. Here are the tax revenue totals reported–

SEDONA TAX ORIGINS Y/E Jun 2012 and Jun 2011:

Y/E June 2012 Total Revenues $20,170,000 Residents $10,925,000 (54.2%) Tourists $ 9,245,000 (45.8%)

Y/E June 2011 Total Revenues $20,637,000 Residents $11,489,000 (55.7%) Tourists $ 9,147,000 (44.3%)

Don’t you feel claiming Sedona’s economy is heavily driven by tourism dishonest and extremely biased? That the “heavily” characterization per se is beyond egregious?

In my opinion, including zilch in the Retail Sales paragraph about the residents’ economic contribution and importance to the City is dishonest and a travesty. I urge the City Council to take immediate steps to put an end to City Hall documents, statements and actions from showing biases towards Sedona’s taxpaying public.

Jean Jenks
Sedona Resident

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. Reminds me of a sign Safeway had that said “Welcome Visitors” when the “season” began this year. It occurred concurrently with the new corporation taking over Safeway. Since I shop there on a regular basis, I thought the message along with a new round of increased pricing, the store’s complete reorganization of cases and shelving, in anticipation of the tourists, pretty offensive.

  2. John says:

    YES this is true! Thanks for the article.
    We need to stop the nonsense. Stop funding a regional chamber City of Sedona.
    Residents you contribute. Speak up

  3. I appreciate the document, in past days you took the municipalities word, there’s a benefit from reading the information exactly like it is without spin.

  4. Judy Stein says:

    So if we changed our tax structure to a property tax and removed the extra sales tax, we would save money?

  5. sharlett says:

    @Judy Stein

    ARE you kidding? NO is the answer!!!!

    Please look at your State/County property tax bill and see that none of it goes to Sedona….only taxes that go to Sedona are when you buy locally!!! So now you are suggesting that Sedona do a Property tax, in addition to the state and county property taxes And the City sales tax’s and you actually think anyone will remove any sales or extra Bed Taxes (which differs greatly from sales tax) ???? and this will save US money??? Got a bridge I’d like to sell you.

  6. Judy Stein says:

    OMG, I just asked a simple question and Sharlett try’s to cut me off at the knees. I’m new to town and I guess I’m not allowed to ask questions. I would have thought it made more sense to have the tourists pay into the tax base and get out of town. Sort of makes sense to me.

  7. Ralph says:

    What am I missing @Judy? Tourists do pay under the present system of collecting sales tax. Property tax is on residents.

  8. Norma says:

    We all pay property taxes here. Both residential and commercial. That is what pays for schools, fire department, ect. Those that rent commercial building pay an additional 3% to the city of sedona via their landlords. The City gets money from the state, and both counties. My property tax is higher here in Sedona than my last home. All retail collects sales tax, so the locals contribute.
    The unfair thing with Sedona is the funding to a regional chamber and other special interest groups. Other places this is illegal.
    It is always good to ask @ Judy Stein. I see we have many places to save money in the exsisting format. That would be a wonderful committee.

  9. Warren says:

    @ Judy Stein – As I recall, in another post you said you lived in VOC. If so, City of Sedona financial issues do not directly affect you. In other words, if City of Sedona adopts GO bonds that will not affect your property taxes in VOC. If the City increased or decreased sales tax that would affect you if you shop within the City limits.

    Re your statement: “I would have thought it made more sense to have the tourists pay into the tax base and get out of town. Sort of makes sense to me.” Actually what would make the most sense would be for the City of Sedona to live within its means rather than dream up new ways to tax more.

  10. sharlett says:

    Judy Stein – No property tax’s and full on tourist paid taxes are the historic way this town has gotten the vast majority of its tax revenue all in order to avoid City Property Taxes! Not a new concept – just truth.

    I’m not trying to cut you off at the knees at all. Obviously you are allowed to ask any and all questions you want to. I respect and honor that.

    Guess my main suggestion is that as a newbie you would at least check out our history to have a valid point of view in order to understand where our money comes from.

    A City property tax does not involve the tourists at all and that’s where I lost what you were saying.

    You wrote: “So if we changed our tax structure to a property tax and removed the extra sales tax, we would save money?” Answer is Nope! Your concept means that tourists pay nothing as they continue to enjoy our town with heaps of money not available to the costs incurred by the city as a result of their being here and residents pay all. Really?

    That concept could also go to the idea that no developer should pay Development Fees as the taxpayers can have their taxes increased to cover the basic needs?

  11. Judy Stein says:


    Thank you for clearing that up. I love the fact that tourists enjoy the red rocks, pay their share of sales and bed tax and leave us to enjoy the city for the rest of our lives. I am by no means advocating a change. I just wanted to learn the point of view of the posters on this site.

  12. jack says:

    All the tourists that stay outside the city limits don’t pay to enjoy the red rocks. They advertise to save some money by staying outside the city limits.

    Those businesses outside also don’t pay to play. They do not contribute.
    STOP funding them city of Sedona. Take care of your own.

    City limits = limit funding

  13. steve segner says:

    From the comments above I know the format for this blog is to be negative, but lets just look at the headline.
    “Tourists Contribute Less Than 50% to City Tax Revenue” kind of negative.

    Now it could have read,Tourists Contribute almost 50% of City Tax Revenue!!

    That’s better, it shows that we have a partnership with our guests and they are picking up part of the tab.
    Kind of Sedonaesk… you know positive….

    So have at it, and let’s see all the nasty stuff you can come up with.. go for it .
    Just saying

  14. Funny says:

    ahahahaha @ steve segner are you trying to change your image? Do you think all your name calling, slander and bullying is forgotten? Blah blah Blah. Hey steve why doesn’t the in city lodging get free membership to the chamber? Instead you double hit them with $5,000 to 10,000 dues on top of the 1.3 the city contributes. The chamber doubled their income and they don’t contribute to the tax basis. ROI ?? The in city businesses are the only ones paying to play. corrupt u r.

    Can’t wait for the new hotels to open.

  15. THOUGHTS? says:

    The chamber is expanding in a power grab. Don’t you want the chamber to control everything? Do your reading. Get back to us.

    POWELL MANIFESTO http://reclaimdemocracy.org/powell_memo_lewis/

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spends much more on lobbying than on campaign contributions — it is one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington. Since 1998, the Chamber has spent more than $1 billion dollars on lobbying, the first organization to pass that milestone according to OpenSecrets.org.

    Total for Business Associations in 2014 : $120,217,561
    US Chamber of Commerce $91,935,000


    City of Sedona/ Time to conform/ you have been sold a bill of goods called your Community Plan -join the rest of the sustainable sheeple

  16. Karen, VOC says:

    What’s happening at the Outlets? Jones of New York is gone, Red Rock resale is leaving.

  17. FYI says:

    The next City Council meeting on February 24th, at 4:30, can be viewed on Cable, on channel 4.

    9a. AB 1896 Presentation/discussion/possible direction regarding the Sedona Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau (SCoc&TB) tourism promotion efforts during the first six months of the new contractual agreement between the City and the SCoC&TB, and an analysis by City staff of sales tax generation between visitor and resident spending.

  18. Tourism …. The ugly cost of having them!

    What percent of the trash do tourists contribute to our highways and at what cost to the residents and taxpayers? What do businesses that benefit from tourism contribute to the local Adopt-A-Highway groups that clean up the messes left by tourists?

    Are tourists some of the contributors of the thousands of alcohol containers that are dumped on the highway along with fast food trash, drug paraphernalia and other items?

    About 6 weeks ago the trash on the Sedona Pines Resort one-mile section of Highway 89A was cleaned and look at it today ……. FILTHY.

    Then when you consider the median strip that is never cleaned by ADOT (check it out) the situation gets even worse.

    When you consider the impact of promoting the wine industry in the Verde Valley you have to ask, “How much more trash and how many more accidents will there be in the coming years?”

    Sedona residents, businesses and leaders should invest a lot more time, energy, money rewarding and recognizing all of the ADOT Adopt-A-Highway groups in the area. They should also require ADOT to clean the medians or allow the ADOT Adopt-A-Highway groups to do it as they once did.

    Dirty highways give permission to 100% of the residents and tourist to continue their bad habits.

    Gary Chamberlain
    “America the Beautiful & BagReadyJobs”
    Empowering our nation’s youth
    (928) 202-1186

  19. To stick to the truth, the City staff analysis submitted for the Feb. 24th City Council Mtg. involves sales AND BED TAX revenues, not merely sales tax revenue as the Agenda ‘inacurrately’ states.

    Here is the title of the irrelevant, deceptive City staff report: “City of Sedona Sales & Bed Tax by NAIC Code Per Revenue Recovery Systems (RDS).” Bed taxes are lumped into the “Accommodations” line item figure.

    Since residents do not pay Bed Taxes, the results are ‘erroneous’ and useless.

    LYING BY OMISSION: With regard to sewer taxes/fees, residents pay over $1 million/year more than Commercial establishments, most being tourist. In FY 2013-14 the City Council levied a Cost of Service Adjustment that increased Single Family Residential rates by 10%, while decreasing Restaurant rates by 27% and Hotel & Resort rates by 6.4%.

    The City staff analysis is totally laughable. Tourists do not provide the bulk of the tax revenue.

  20. Alarmed says:

    Instead of the City staff analyzing ALL tax revenue the City receives, only Sales and Bed taxes were considered. Isn’t this so the City Council can bless the $1.3 Million taxpayer gift to their beloved Chamber of Commerce and claim Sedona’s residents don’t pay their fair share?

    Missing in the staff analysis are City revenues from Wastewater taxes (aka fees), as well as shared revenues from State income taxes, State sales taxes, State gas taxes, State vehicle license fees and County Flood Control Districts. These relate primarily to residents and must be considered.

    And how analyzing the several millions in taxes residents pump annually into the School District and the Fire District, most of which are spent in Sedona?

    City Hall can’t stand the truth.

  21. Just because the numbers don’t come out in your favor thier lying!!!

    Now that laughable!!!

    You cry bitch and moan about transperacy and when you get it you cry bitch and moan..

    As I said many times before and what really is transpernt is that those here that cry bitch and moan will always cry bitch and moan and never be satisfied..
    Funny stuff..

  22. Great stuff on this site with the exception of the westie whiner. Boy do they need a personality adjustment. Wa Wa Wa They should probably move back to where they came from. Pitiful whining.
    I moved from a small town in northern California. They did similar things with the pot growers until the feds jumped in.
    My hubby and I are retired so we eat out and shop locally. I buy my kids and grandkids gifts here. It’s getting harder to find good stuff here. All the good places seem to go out of business. I know we contribute more than the city wants you to think.

  23. No name, no credible voice.

    I’m always amazed at the critics that want to be taken seriously but never post their real name.

    For those of you that have enough confidence in your claim (no matter what it is)and post your name, you are the type of residents and citizens we need.

    Stand in front of your convictions, don’t hide behind them!

    Lead from the front!

    Gary Chamberlain
    “America the Beautiful & BagReadyJobs”
    Empowering our nation’s youth
    Cornville, AZ

  24. Just Sayin' says:

    Wow Gary Chamberlain, you use your real name that’s so great of you. You also have a lot to say about what goes on here in Sedona, that’s also great BUT WAIT you live in Cornville. Your opinion counts to us because?????????

  25. JeanJ says:

    I am the Sedona resident who sent the above Letter to the Editor of the SEDONA EYE. I welcome ALL comments, anonymous and non-anonymous.

    Sedona is not Cornville or FolksvilleUSA. Sedona has a bloated, big-city government where people can easily subject themselves to repercussions if their viewpoints differ from the City’s. I understand why so many good, credible comments are being posted anonymously.

  26. Dear Just Sayin,

    If you wish to inform yourself on the topic, I, along with many others, have been picking up the trash in Sedona and many other Verde Valley communities for several years.

    Those of us that pick up this trash consider the entire Verde Valley our home and we have invested our time because we care about our entire region and even folks like you that don’t seem to appreciate what we do.

    What have you done to make the Verde Valley and Sedona a better place to live?

    By the way, Folksville USA and our litter folks were recognized by your former Mayor Rob Adams and your Council for our efforts ….. what about that?!

    We have also been recognized by the Arizona House of Representatives and two US Congressional representatives (Ann Kirkpatrick (D) and Paul Gosar (R)).

    Google “America the Beautiful & BagReadyJobs” and read into the night with all of the information found there.

    I’m also a veteran that served my country, which includes every city and town in all 50 states (including Sedona).

    Gary Chamberlain
    “America the Beautiful & BagReadyJobs”
    Empowering our nation’s youth
    (928) 202-1186

  27. Just Sayin' says:


    When you say; “Sedona has a bloated, big-city government” don’t you really mean to say; In my opinion Sedona has a bloated, big-city government? I mean after all, no official reporting or news person ever said that, right? No County, State or Federal government official ever said that, right?

    I mean after all, you know so much about so many things, one would think that you would step out and run for a governmental seat someplace because YOU know all of the answers.

  28. Dear Just Sayn’,

    You might want to read this SedonaEyE.com article the possibly you can have a better understanding of how our efforts have directly benefited Sedona and the Verde Valley.


    Let’s work together on these social issues that affect all of us.

    Gary Chamberlain
    “America the Beautiful & BagReadyJobs”
    Empowering our nation’s youth
    (928) 202-1186

  29. Just Sayin' says:

    @Gary Chamberlain

    Not impressed. It’s nice that you donate your time to a very worthy cause, IMO it doesn’t give you a dog in the race to have something to say that pertains to Sedona.

  30. What “Just Sayin'” fails to mention to Gary Chamberlain is that if he (Gary) happens to be a member of the city financed Regional Chamber of Commerce, located in uptown Sedona, he can do or say anything he wants because those are the folks running the local government, no matter where they live. And that’s the truth.

  31. Sedona Sam says:

    Good Morning Gary. Yes you do have the right to speak up. The city of Sedona invites and funds many outside the city district to do so.

    #Funding regional non-profits
    #Funding private entertainment groups-film festival-art shows-marathon
    #Citizens engagement- Anyone can participate
    #Funding of the regional Chamber of 1.3 million dollars

    Sedona supports the entire region. They let any dog in the race and sometimes rats. You don’t need to be a Sedona resident or in areas called Sedona. Sedona welcomes everyone. Thank you for your contributions to Sedona.

  32. Dear Just Sayin’,

    You are a difficult person to impress!

    Thanks for revealing your true nature and defining what you’ve done to make our communities a better place to live.

    Gary Chamberlain
    “America the Beautiful & BagReadyJobs”
    Empowering our nation’s youth
    (928) 202-1186

  33. Dear Jerry, Sedona City Limits,

    What “Just Sayin’” fails to mention to Gary Chamberlain is that if he (Gary) happens to be a member of the city financed Regional Chamber of Commerce, located in uptown Sedona, he can do or say anything he wants because those are the folks running the local government, no matter where they live. And that’s the truth.

    I currently don’t belong or intend on joining anything in Sedona or any where else, besides that, my wife won’t let me join anything until I read “How to win friends and influence people”.

    Sedona Sam, thanks for the info, you seem like a person people could work with.

    Gary Chamberlain
    “America the Beautiful & BagReadyJobs”
    Empowering our nation’s youth
    (928) 202-1186

  34. Jean says:

    @Just Sayin’

    You are wrong to claim “no official reporting or news person ever said Sedona has a bloated, big city government.”

    Guess you missed Terry Nash’es “SEDONA, THE FUTURE IS NOW: Excessive Debt — Deteriorating Revenue — Bloated City Staff — A City Council Out of Touch” (October 21, 2008), which appeared in the Sedona Verde Valley Times newspaper. Terry also wrote “CRACKS FORM IN SEDONA’S ECONOMY” and “A DETAILED LOOK AT SEDONA’S FINANCES.” Sedona.Biz reprinted Terry’s “THE FUTURE IS NOW…..”

    Terry and others, myself included, have researched Sedona’s finances. I have a degree in Economics, so have no trouble reading the City’s financials. I know perfectly well the City of Sedona helps support the entire region; won’t have enough reserve funds for non-WW capital projects after another two years; is operating under an unbalanced budget that sucks up revenues/savings (this fiscal year’s budgeted expenditures exceed estimated revenues by $10.6 Million); and has NOT made mention of a “no new tax pledge.”

    Terry Nash, who conducted fraud audits for the protection of minority shareholders for a Big Eight accounting firm and was the controller of a Fortune Five-Hundred company, is currently a venture capitalist living in Texas. He spent a year or more reviewing the City of Sedona’s financial documents Under a Freedom of Information Subpoena when residing here. His findings of several years ago live on today.

  35. Anyone who happened to catch the council meeting (2/24) saw a classic example of an orchestrated shakedown. Jean J.’s online input including the report from Ron Budnick during his time on the Budget Oversight Commission was neatly trashed by city employee Tabitha Miller. The cast of public speakers solicited by the Lodging Council obviously had been hand delivered contributions to the meeting that in any way challenged the integrity of the funding given to the chamber of commerce for still unproven return on the investment.

    And people wonder why frequently comments are posted anonymously? Check out the meeting and witness first hand the type of bullying that goes on in Sedona. This time at a public council meeting and the elected seven plus city staff members encourage such behavior. Seeing is believing.

  36. Steve segner says:

    Just sayin has a point , you do not know what city employees
    Do, or there work load ,you just rant about a balance sheet you do not like .The citys income is over budget and Capitol projects should be using bond money so the cost is spread over the life the project.
    Having a degree in finance does not make you an expert at running a city or a company, it is just staff position in most company’s, management is left to in our case the city manager he knows what each employee does.
    sorry, I could not attend last nights meeting ,”shakedown, did you go ? Of course not , you just sit back and write snarky little comments about bullies! But you and your friends are the bullies you use hateful words and make comments that you can not support. If you want change then get involved go to meetings , oh I for got the Voice as on after the city meeting ,watching the city meeting on t.v. Is not how you make change , Steve

  37. Matt says:

    46% of any revenue budget is substantial! What is the issue?

  38. Rockin Roger says:

    @Orchestrated shakedown

    Thank you for reminding me of that meeting B/C I forgot all about it. As you suggested, I watched the video and found it very interesting, indeed:

    I saw just what you spoke about, people who are specialists in their field, Ms Miller who I understand is also an attorney, debunk each and every negative issue that you people have posted on this site for so long. So, of course, you’ll call it a “shake down” because you were caught with your pants down. Since you mentioned Mr. Budnick, his numbers were dis-proven: Locals pay 35% in Sales tax and visitors pay 65% AND they say that those numbers are conservative. BUT IT’S A SHAKEDOWN!!!!!

  39. Judy Stein says:

    Thank you Orchestrated, I did as you said and it looks like Mr. Segner is on the right track. I’ve been hearing for months how people on this site present their facts and obviously those facts are wrong. Im thinking that the money we as taxpayers pay those city people is money well spent.

  40. jack says:

    @ Orchestrated Shakedown Your correct, Ms. Miller used incorrect. assumptions in her presentation. What a fool. Looks like she had a charge to discredit evey resident. Double talk. Of course those who are taking the $$ don’t care they have padded their pockets.

  41. JJ says:

    Somethings never change. I lived with a staffer. They all do whatever the bosses say. The bosses aka city council are not trained. Jokers. He quit. A lot of monkeys.

  42. Just Sayin' says:


    and you know “that Ms Miller used incorrect assumptions in her presentation” BECAUSE WHY????

    Get off of your high holy horse and admit that the data used on this site is floored. If it wasn’t for you people on this site that have nothing better to do except to criticize professionals, this site would have no purpose.

  43. anonymous says:

    Readers remember this

    a noun, plural bullies.

    a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.

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