By Henry Twombly, Sedona, AZ
(June 11, 2013)
The City continues to mismanage our funds. Sedona’s bond rating has been downgraded twice under our current mayor from A++ to A-. The Council has reneged on the original promise of subsidizing the waste-water plant by 46%, and next month will raise WW fees for the fourth time. Since these fees are a surrogate property tax for the 60% of us who are hooked up/in to this fiasco, why are the other 40% off the hook? Moreover it plans to wrongfully shift monies from the restricted WW Enterprise Fund to the General Fund, so they can grow the city and enrich special interests.
The Council has been so fiscally irresponsible that the City will have no funds left for capital projects after next year. Instead of paying down our debt, it’s spending $8.3m more and thus saving $7.3m less this year than last. It’s even considering saddling us taxpayers with General Obligation bonds.
In addition, the Lodging Council has officially proposed the City increase the sales tax 0.5% and the bed tax 0.5% and then give most of these proceeds to the Chamber of Commerce. The argument that this is a win-win for everybody is totally false. The Chamber has long argued that taxes on tourists provide as much as 90% of the City’s revenues. A recent Budget Oversight Committee study discovered that taxes and fees received from residents (55%) are a greater percentage than from tourists (45%). Compared to other cities, the Chamber receives a disproportionate amount of funds ($550,000 for our 10,000 population, when only $2.1m for Santa Fe’s 68,000 and $5.5m for Scottsdale’s 217,000). Why is the Council willing to lavish funds on the Chamber and simultaneously put local enterprises like Bodacious Burgers and Studio Live out of business with exorbitant WW fees?