Sedona AZ (November 24, 2017) – It is hard to believe that nearly a year has gone by since the current City Council was seated. Your council has met and dealt with a myriad of issues during the year. Among the most notable was the transportation study and its recommended solutions. Council has since prioritized the recommended solutions using citizen feedback and projected costs from the study.
The most difficult and challenging question council faced from the study was: how are we going to fund the transportation improvements and what is the most appropriate funding source and level of funding needed to accomplish this? Again, using feedback from citizens who participated in the process and a committee that worked hard to evaluate how to pay for the improvements, a majority of Council took steps toward putting a half cent sales tax in place early next year to fund fixes for our ongoing traffic problems.
During our discussion there was some variance in our feelings about the amount of sales tax that should be assessed for the fixes. The range varied from a full cent to a quarter of a cent. Irrespective of our personal desires for the amount, everyone agreed that some increase in our local sales tax was needed to pay for the fixes. Ultimately the majority of council settled on a half cent increase. Several citizens and business owners have understandably expressed concern about the impact of this tax on our local economy. Fortunately, our Financial Services Department does an excellent job in tracking our revenue streams and expenditures, so I am confident that we can stay on top of this and act proactively if any adjustments are needed in the future.
It is my belief that the majority of the sales tax for our road improvements will be paid for over time by our visitors. This will benefit everyone who lives, works or visits Sedona. This tax in combination with our healthy reserves and sound fiscal management by council and city staff will start us in the direction that we need to lessen the frustration for us as highway users, bicyclists and pedestrians in moving throughout our city. As a reminder, Sedona, does not assess any tax on real property within Sedona city limits.
Even though the recommended solutions and financing are on the horizon, we have to remember that it will take time to design, engineer, contract for, and initiate construction on the fixes. The city will have to be sensitive to the impact of any changes requiring roadway construction will have on traffic and work to minimize any disruptions to our community. One only needs to recall the recent construction on State Route 89A above Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff to understand this.
It is exciting to know that there is a plan in place and we can solidify it in the future. I am grateful for all of our citizens, city staff and my fellow councilors who worked so hard to bring this to fruition. Speaking of gratitude, have a Happy Thanksgiving.