By Jean K. Jenks, Sedona Resident
(March 20, 2013)
Most already know the City Council decided to move ahead with increasing sales and bed taxes at last Thursday’s meeting. The Mayor took NO community input or comments. Jennifer Wesselhoff of the Chamber of Commerce provided NO plan. Two options were presented. The Council went overboard and decided on BOTH. Potentially, over $2.3 million per year of taxpayer money is involved.
Inquiring minds want to know, has the need for destination marketing been trumped up? According to the Nichols Group study–commissioned by the Lodging Council–currently Sedona enjoys a competitive edge, is near the top in room night demand growth, and has a very high repeat visitation rate. The Group has been working in California cities to increase marketing resources and to improve tourism there. So now it is here in Sedona saying Sedona has potential to lose market share to California in the future.
Our City Council is currently planning on a 1% Bed Tax increase ($516,000/yr) and one-half ($917,000/yr) of a .5% Sales Tax increase ($1,830,000/yr) to go to the greedheads at the Chamber, with the remaining $$$$ retained by the City.
While the Bed Tax increase of 1% was supported by all seven members of the Council, the Sales Tax percentage was not. DiNunzio wanted NO increase, McIlroy wanted a .25% increase, Martinez wanted a full 1% increase, and the rest a.5% increase. During the Council meeting City Manager Ernster dubbed this heist “The Wesselhoff Tax.”
In my opinion, gouging the poor, residents on fixed incomes, struggling businesses, etc., so as to line the pockets of the Chamber of Commerce SANS listening to and considering community input is commie stuff.
Looks like shopping at the Cottonwood WalMart and putting visiting guests up in VOC or Cottonwood just became more attractive. Thanks, Jean, for the tip !
I concur Ms. Jenks!
Let’s compare the tax rates in a couple of Southern California hot spots.
Orange and San Diego sales tax rates are 8%. In Newport Beach the bed tax rate is 8% and in San Diego it is 6%.
Sedona’s sales tax is an astronomical 10.725% & 10.35% and the bed tax is 13.737%.
I am disgusted that they raised taxes to increase the Chamber’s budget. The Wesselhoff tax is definitely going to gouge the locals. If you want to attract more travelers raising rates isn’t going to make Sedona more attractive.
Sadly, the locals don’t really matter to the council. We get to pay more to have our streets congested, our trails beaten up and our waterway’s littered. Tourists don’t really care how they treat the place we live.
Letter to the Editor
In response to Jean K. Jenkins letter
Jean K. Jenks, Sedona Resident, ONE AGAIN has it wrong. If she ever came to a City Council meeting, a City Budget Committee meeting, a Lodging Council or Chamber meeting, she would get a real understanding of City finances!
The City is looking at a split in taxes, and in no way was the Chamber ever to receive the majority of the tax income, if any.
The tax will not be going up! The tax is just covering the amount that is being dropping by the State May 1, 2013. The City has a cash need for future capital improvements, including drainage. The extra income will allow the city to accelerate some projects. That is what a city does; they fix and improve streets, drainage, and sewers services that even retired and “poor” people use.
As for the poor people in Sedona, are we to stop all improvements in the city for the sake of the “poor ” that she seems to continually reference? I am sure the “poor” do not stay in Sedona hotels, and they do most of their shopping in Cottonwood. And by the way, Cottonwood has a tax on food!
To quote Jenks, “.5% Sales Tax increase ($1,830,000/yr) to go to the greedheads at the Chamber, with the remaining $$$$ retained by the City.” Once again, she is wrong! The City Council will decide if there will be a replacement tax and how it will be used, not the Chamber, that is how government works.
Hotel Owner Sedona
Very Good questions…will they be answered??
Steve, my last name is not Jenkins. Steve, you were on the now-defunct Economic Steering Committee. I attended three meetings, and spoke twice. Don’t you remember?
I have attended many, many City Council Meetings over the years. Have been at P & Z and Housing Commission meetings, too. I do not like the Mayor, so I do not attend his Council Meetings.
Below is a copy of the e-mail I received from Vice Mayor DiNunzio concerning my Letter to the City Council.
“Jean: I am with you up to your last paragraph. My research of populations shows many more people and a much larger geographic area supporting the other destinations. I believe that the other destinations are supported by ‘county wide taxes’ and not just city wide taxes. In either case, more taxes on residents is off the table as far as I am concerned. And, an increase in bed tax would increase our disadvantage over our local competitors that are outside the city limits.
Additionally, I would need to see a much more detailed promotion plan governing the promotion expenditures whoever the vendlor is
Lastly, regarding sales tax revenue generated by locals vs. tourists, the west sedona sales tax figures can be deceiving. They do not disclose the number of tourists that visit west sedona stores. We need to develop more information before we can make a solid judgement.”
P.S. to Steve,
The City Council currently plans to increase the sales tax by .5% and the Bed Tax by 1%. The amount of funds the Chamber receives will be disbursed by the City of Sedona to the Chamber of Commerce.
Steve, I will thank you not to misquote me. I wrote “one half” of the .5% sales tax increase, not the entire .5%.
BTW, the 1% state sales tax that is being dropped was voted in for a finite period by the electorate. This was as a result of the economy being in a terrible recession. The taxes the Lodging Council and the Chamber of Commerce will receive from the City will be forever. City Hall dictators decided this, not the electorate. As the City Attorney informed the Mayor and Council, the City has the option of putting the .5% sales tax increase before the voters of Sedona. Laughter was the answer.
At the end of its March 26th meeting, the City Council PULLED the matter of the planned increase in bed and sales taxes.
Apparently, a lot of people forwareded my emailed research to the extent it went viral. This was an extremely important factor in this amazing turn of events.
I wish to sincerely thank everyone who helped out.