By Henry Twombly, Sedona Resident
(February 24, 2018)
If an independent auditor were to do a State of Sedona address, like the President does the State of the Union, it might go something like this… “The governing bodies of the city – the City Council, the Sedona Fire District, and the Sedona Oak Creek School District – spend more money than they receive. The standard concept of a balanced budget seems to elude them; and therefore their policies and subsequent actions can be deemed to be fiscally irresponsible.”
Just as the quality of SOCSD schools were graded with a string of Cs and one B, the fiscal management of our governing bodies would be given Ds and Fs. Numbers do not lie…unless they are tampered with to show otherwise. Who picks up the slack for this mismanagement? We the residents and thus each of us is $3,680 in per capita debt, 10th highest out of 91 cities. This might partially explain why 27% and 25% of our tax bills can be attributed to the SFD and SOCSD respectively.
Apparently we residents have had enough, for we had the fortitude and common economic sense to vote down the SFD’s $18m bond last November. In a recent SRRN article “Fire district budget season is in bloom” (2/7/18) the Chief has already begun his PR campaign to assuage and woo residents that the SFD has crafted and will develop “fiscally responsible” budgets, noting “Like all public sector local government budgets, personnel costs make up nearly 80 percent of the budget,” the total of which is approximately $17m. Moreover due to “pension reform legislation, which will have long-term savings to everyone [this goes unexplained[…a correction to put reform on track…[this] resulted in an additional cost of more than $700,000 to SFD last year.” Thus logically to reduce costs SFD would reduce personnel (not increase them as it did last year). The standard fear-mongering comeback to this assertion is that such measures would jeopardize the safety of the residents. “Our explicit goal each and every year is to achieve the leanest budget that can ensure sustainability for emergency service.” This and future articles are to make more palatable the inevitable mill rate increase and higher budgets that are sure to come.