Partnerships + Volunteerism = Significant City Savings
By Mayor Rob Adams
Sedona AZ (March 28, 2012) – The purpose of government is to provide those basic services that most people would not be otherwise able to provide for themselves. Police and fire protection, court services, and public works projects such as sewer, water, sidewalks, streets and parks are a few examples of amenities and services citizens normally expect from government.
In many cases, government is involved in providing community services above and beyond the basic necessities. For example, the City of Sedona provides funding for the public library, the Humane Society, Sedona Recycles, the Adult Community Center and the Chamber of Commerce. This funding could be considered a “partnership” or a contract agreement. Instead of creating staff positions and infrastructure to provide certain services, the City “partners” with non-profit organizations. By forming these partnerships, the City does not have to create permanent staff positions or infrastructure. Many of these non-profits are able to provide services to citizens at a fraction of the cost as compared to what it would cost the City. Additionally, non-profit organizations have a high level of commitment, volunteerism and innovation that may not otherwise exist in a City government.
From time to time, I hear some criticism in our community regarding funding amounts that the City provides to certain organizations. I would argue that many of our “partnerships” provide services that are vital to revenue generation and our quality of life at a significant savings to the City.
For example, the destination marketing contract between the City and the Chamber of Commerce is a powerful partnership in terms of leveraging private and public dollars. Over 60% of the revenue in Sedona’s operating budget is generated from tourism. The Chamber is the marketing arm of the City. By partnering with the Chamber, the City is able to invest in our primary economic generator and only pay for about 40% of the total benefit received.
The City also “partners” with the Chamber to operate the Uptown Visitor Center. Visitor management is a key component to economic development in our City. The Chamber subsidizes the operation of the Visitor Center, saving the City at least $100,000 per year in operating costs. An additional $250,000 per year is saved in salaries as the result of over 70 volunteers that help staff the facility.
Volunteerism and shared costs produce significant savings for other organizations that provide critical services to our City. At Sedona Recycles, 18% of the workforce is volunteers. At the Sedona Public Library, 160 volunteers are responsible for 45% of total hours worked. The Sedona Humane Society has over 150 volunteers. These partnerships result in high quality services being provided to our community and hundreds of thousands of dollars being saved in operational costs as a result of the free labor that is provided by volunteers.
The next time that you utilize the service that these organizations provide, please think about thanking the staff and the wonderful volunteers for their dedication and commitment to our community. They play a significant role in our extraordinary quality of life.
The 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.