By Tommy Acosta
Sigh. How often do I have to repeat myself? Home Rule, rules!
Nobody wants to hear the phrase No Home Rule because it implies one does not have the right to rule their home.
It sits in the unconscious and messes with the concept of one’s ability to rule at home.
And then there is the word “imposed” as in State-Imposed Expenditure Limitation (SIEL).
Who the heck wants the state imposing anything on our town? For that matter, who wants anyone imposing anything upon them, period!
To impose means “to force (something unwelcome or unfamiliar) to be accepted or put in place.”
And the synonyms are even worse: foist, force, thrust, inflict, obtrude, press, urge.
The concept is distasteful to any freedom lover.
Yes, SIEL removes the council’s right to self-approve expenditures and eliminates local control over expenditures not addressed in the budget, requiring citizens to vote to approve additional expenditures.
But, so what?
SEIL is cumbersome, expensive and ties the hands of the council to timely expend money should it become necessary to do so.
Proponents of SIEL believe the City is spending money frivolously and hope to curb the city’s ability to make its own budgetary decisions by eliminating its right to do so under state-imposed limitations, forcing the council to put any additional expenditures not covered in the budget to public vote, even though the public does not vote on the city’s budget itself…a waste of time and money.
They say it’s needed to control the council and gain back citizen’s vote, but they forget they have no vote on the main budget either. They never had that right in the first place. It’s like trying to close the barn door after the horse has scat.
Even if the proponents are right about the council, the vernacular of No Home Rule negates them.
The key is to elect council members who reflect the will of the people and trust them to do the right thing. Period. No need to give up local control over our money.
No Home Rule rubs against the grain of freedom like a metallic chalk on a glass blackboard while the term Home Rule creates all kinds of fuzzy feelings when you say it or think of it.
Ah! Home Rule. Doesn’t it sound nice? Home sweet home. My home is my castle. There’s no place like home and all that jazz.
The proponents of SEIL are going to lose as the voters snuggle up to Home Rule once again.
In the opinion of the SEIL proponents the council is populated by individuals who push petty self-serving projects and keep the wool pulled over the public’s eyes.
Maybe in Washington but not here in Sedona. I can’t imagine any of our council members taking advantage of their positions.
Roll the term “State-imposed Expenditure Limitation” in your head. The word imposed should rub any self-respecting Republican or Conservative the wrong way.
Imposed? Please. The state should not have the power to impose anything on our right to local control over our budget.
Even Democrats and Liberals would find that term repulsive. Ugh!
The effort to impose State-Imposed Expenditure Limitation on the people of Sedona, will fail miserably, just like it did before.
Very well said Tommy.
I think the part your missing is that the anti-Home Rule people have an ideology….Taxes bad, big government bad, pick yourself up by your own bootstraps….We have heard it over and over for close to 50 years.
My gosh how many complain about how Sedona taxes are spent?…How about the complaint about a .5% tax that became permanent? They first think its their money….Second, they never complain about the Arizona state tax or the county. Why’s that?
Im anti-war and my federal taxes were spent on two wars that both lasted 20 years a piece! And cost trillions of dollars that we could of used that help fellow Americans….No we spent it to stop evildoers…(from the wrong country may I add)
Why we dont want to help one another boggles my mind, help your neighbor, family, friends, strangers, homeless, and all that jazz!
We have a Representative Republic, which means the people who win elections make the decisions for us, its just that simple.
Now some want the state to tell us what to do, and how to spend the tax money?….Very odd, IMO.
You are right, Sedona Dave. We have a bunch of right wing Republicans trying to impose yet another layer of government over our town. It doesn’t make any sense at all. Aren’t Republicans supposed to be against big government? It’s schizophrenic. Why the hell would they go against Home Rule? Do they really want the state imposing its will upon us? This Donna Joy and her ilk are like a bunch of peasants with pitchforks storming the concept of one’s home is their castle and can rule from it. All they can do is throw aspersions at the city government. True, the council screwed up big-time when they stomped on the chamber and tried to make us wear masks but those sins aren’t big enough to warrant taking away the city’s right to manage its own affairs. And I agree this spending of trillions on wars could have been used to feed our own country. The Republicans in this town are outnumbered three-to-one and Democrats need to vote them and their effort to end home rule into the dust bin of history. They will fail and hopefully crawl back into their dens of insignificance.
Hey Tommy. What have you been smoking? Wake up and smell the coffee.
I am a Republican and I see no harm in bringing the city to its knees by rejecting home rule. We Republicans killed the right to abortion, thank almighty God… and now we will bring the Liberal Sedona city government to its knees when we win the election.
Those who don’t see this fight over home rule as a battle between us Republicans and left wing Liberals are blind. We must end this out-of-control spending. We need to start with eliminating home rule.
We need to get our city back. Democrats have had their turn. Now it’s time for us Republicans to take over.
First, going to the voters in May of each year to ask for approval for a budget that would start just a few months later on July 1 is impossible if the community wants the city to continue providing services and capital improvement projects without interruption from year to year. The more likely scenario is that if home rule failed, we would immediately start the wheels in motion to ramp down all of our operations to the state expenditure level, with the possible exception of doing a one-time override in May of 2023 only for the purpose of finishing the large capital projects in the process now (Forest Rd, parking garage, Tlaq underpass, etc.), I’m sure that council would want to honor what the community has asked for, which is the state-imposed spending limit and begin to put the plans in motion to spend the next 9 months ramping down virtually everything we do.
We would also immediately begin to see an exodus of staff. What city employee would be willing to stick around until May to find out whether they’ll have a job or get a pink slip on July 1? And this would be what they’d be asked to face every year? That’s ridiculous to ask city employees to endure when their job is their means to support themselves and their families. And we are a service organization so our employees are our services. Without them, we provide nothing.
Further, how does the city plan for large-scale multi-year capital projects when we don’t know from year to year whether we will be able to spend for them (or finish them once they are started)? The answer is, we wouldn’t and almost nothing we do fits neatly into a July 1-June 30 timeframe. There is always overlap from fiscal year to fiscal year so it would be irresponsible to start any project we didn’t know if we would have authorization from the voters to finish.
City staff and the 7 elected officials also spend many months each year preparing, reviewing and revising the revenue forecasts and expenditure estimates, assessing fund balances and debt service, scrutinizing department budget requests for new programs and services, and aligning spending with council-established priorities, etc., etc. Staff does multi-day work sessions with councilors to review hundreds of pages of financial information so they are positioned to make decisions about the annual budgets. Every department and program manager attends, presents, and answers questions. There is no way joe citizens could have a full enough understanding of all that the budget entails by voting “yes or no” on it each year- at least not responsibly. That is not an indictment of them, it is simply a matter of the time and commitment it would take to be in the same decision-making position as a city councilor. The budget is also not done in isolation so every council meeting where the city councilors discuss a myriad of city issues, projects, and expenditures, all provides the necessary context to even have the annual budget work session discussions. Without all that, they’d be lost and unable to make thoughtful decisions. Every citizen isn’t going to invest the time necessary to be knowledgeable enough to opine on the budget every year. And if there is one project someone doesn’t like they vote no on the whole expansive budget that covers dozens of service areas and projects?
There is a reason why no other of the 91 cities or towns use this approach and take their budget to voters annually, and there is a reason why it is called a “ONE-time” override – it was never intended, nor does it work, as it is being proposed to in that video.
June 22, 2022 Community Meeting – Sedona, AZ (swagit.com)
“The key is to elect council members who reflect the will of the people and trust them to do the right thing.”
Tommy, who might be these people who “reflect the will of the people”??
Do any of these interviewed fit the bill?
I am voting No on Home Rule. So many of the arguments in this column and in the comments are either incorrect or constitute scare-mongering. One of our council members, in the election publicity pamphlet, called the law “archaic” as an argument against it. OK … well, then, it seems to me the U.S. Constitution must be REALLY “archaic.” Should we throw it away?
Those of us planning to vote No on Home Rule are not necessarily anti-government, or — as one commenter alleged — Republican (sigh). Please, folks, can we get past the myopic, black-and-white world outlook? I am neither a Republican nor Libertarian. You might be shocked at just how “liberal” I am! This labeling of people is not helpful.
A No vote on Home Rule does not cede control to the state, this is a patently ridiculous statement. Does it use a state formula for calculating spending? Yes. Does the state control that spending? No. In fact, the law gives LOCAL VOTERS the right to decide spending limits and it was crafted specifically to address instances in which the local representative government has strayed too far from the desires of its constituency. Which is what has happened in Sedona.
Many, many of us have been frustrated for many years with the city’s over-investment in tourism, to the detriment of our needs and desires. That over-investment in tourism has fueled many problems and the city’s only proposed solutions have been mitigation measures (build more roads! build a parking garage! buy a bunch of buses!) rather than adopting policies and new spending priorities designed to address the core problem: over-investment in tourism. Additionally, the mechanism for these expenditures — a very unhealthy relationship with an unhealthy Chamber of Commerce — only serves to perpetuate the unhealthy excessive tourism cycle.
The scare-mongering by the city and city council members (no police services! no grants to help homeless pets!) is really offensive. Here is what the Arizona Auditor General’s FAQs say:
What happens if voters reject a home rule proposal? If voters do not approve a home rule proposal on the ballot, the constitutional expenditure limitation applies, and the city or town may not submit a new home rule proposal to the voters for at least 2 years. However, the city or town may submit to its voters a permanent base adjustment or one-time override as described in voter-approved expenditure limitations FAQ #1.
And, no, this election does not have to happen in May! It can happen during a regularly scheduled non-partisan election to seat members of the governing body [i.e. the city council].
I am not against government spending. I am not against responsible government borrowing (bonding) for the things we need. The city budget IS balanced, its borrowing is responsible and there are adequate reserves for a rain day. I don’t dispute that. But a balanced budget is not necessarily a responsible budget, nor a RESPONSIVE budget — meaning responsive to the needs and desires of its constituency. If I choose to spend my money on streaming services and ice cream instead of getting my daughter braces, that’s not a responsible budget even if it is balanced, meaning that my spending is within my means.
The problem with allowing our elected officials sole discretion over spending — in this instance — is that the Sedona city council has demonstrated that it is not capable of change, nor of offering new ideas for solutions. I don’t think the council is evil or corrupt. I just think they’ve been running down the same track so long that they are no longer capable of change. I would have voted them in the past, but newcomer candidates on the ballot these past many years have been so nasty and, yes, crazy, that I figured the status quo was the lesser of two evils.
Now, for the first time in a long time we have some thoughtful, intelligent and responsible candidates on the ballot. I will vote for them AND at the same time vote No on Home Rule. Why? Because I want to force a pause in spending in order to give the new council members time and space — without pressure from city staff members or the Chamber — to get robust public input and re-formulate a new spending plan. They can come back to voters with Override(s) and/or a Permanent Base Adjustment according to the provisions of the law, which allow plenty of opportunities during the two-year period in which these adjustments can be made.
If I truly believed that our city council had finally started listening and would change its ways, I would vote for Home Rule. But these past 10 years have shown me that nothing is going to change unless voters give our new city council members a breather from the pressure to continue down the road we’ve been on for too long.
Voting No on Home Rule is a way to take a pause and give our new city council members time to re-think spending priorities and is also an opportunity for us, as voters, to say “yes” to an Override or Permanent Base Adjustment as vote of confidence in their ideas for change. There are some very good ideas coming from several of our city council candidates. I am excited about the possibility for change, but we need a No vote on Home Rule in order to give our new council candidates the space to make those changes.
Your comment has more holes than a chunk of Swiss cheese after it’s been used for target practice at an AR15 convention. It’s obvious you are one of those Sedona residents who think Sedona itself belongs to them. It does not. Sedona is a magical place, a world destination that exists to host anyone who believes in the power of spirituality and beauty. We don’t own it. We are merely its stewards. It’s obvious you hate tourists and are trying to do whatever you can to scare them away. You admit the city’s budget is balanced yet you complain the city has failed us. The effort to end Home Rule is nothing more than an exercise in futility.
Did you notice we have a traffic problem?….You do understand that will cost money?…..You do know because of STR we have had hundreds of working people misplaced with no housing? Does that get fixed without money?….
Ok you dont want public transportation….Well? What are you going to fix on transportation by doing nothing?
See you simplistic world is just ignoring all are problems and they will fix themselves right?
So those 3 problems are on top of everyone running for a position of mayor and council, and you think tieing their hands behind the councils back is the answer?….Great thinker you are their my friend….
So Joe, your point is the less we do the better all are towns problems will be…..You should run for a position in government…..It will be called led balloon 2022, vote for Joe he dont give a damn!