It’s been one of the most discussed topics in the Sedona area this year — the $17.9 million bond proposed by the Sedona Fire District.

The first and only open forum on the topic will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 18 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Christ Lutheran Church at 25 Chapel Road. The event is being hosted by the League of Women Voters Greater Verde Valley.

By a 6-1 vote, the Sedona City Council approved a plan to add a half-cent sales tax with the goal of paying for needed traffic mitigation projects over the next decade.

The vote, which came on Tuesday, Oct. 10, was not a surprise being that council took an informal vote on the matter during its Sept. 27 meeting.

A workshop located at 175 Sunset Pass Road, in the Village of Oak Creek, was destroyed by flames shortly after noon Monday, Oct. 9, according to Sedona Fire District officials. 

“When firefighters arrived they found a 1,000 square foot detached workshop completely engulfed in flames” Fire Marshal Jon Davis stated. 

It appears court proceedings between the city of Sedona and a longtime business may continue.

Last week, Coconino County Superior Court Judge Dan Slayton gave his ruling regarding an appeal by the owners of Son Silver West, ruling in favor of the city.

The public will have two additional opportunities to hear what’s being proposed by way of Major Community Plan Amendments that include housing density, a hard cider business and a new parking lot.

The Sedona City Council will hold a special work session on Wednesday, Oct. 11, regarding these proposals. This meeting will be for discussion only and no public comment will be taken. Council will hold a public hearing on
Oct. 25 at which time a vote is expected to be take place. Public comments will be taken at that meeting.

The public got a glimpse of a proposed plan on the former Biddle’s property that calls for a hotel, condos, retail space and restaurant.

During a Thursday, Sept. 28, conceptual hearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission, Curt and Robin Baney, owners of the Oxford Suites hotel chain, and their representatives discussed the proposed project.

The Sedona City Council is moving forward with a plan that it hopes will cover the costs of many traffic mitigation projects over the next decade.

Near the end of a five-hour meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27, the majority of the council was in favor of directing staff to pursue a halfpercent sales tax increase.

Vice Mayor John Martinez was seeking a 1 percent increase, Councilman John Currivan said he’d consider no more than a quarter-cent increase while Councilman Tom Lamkin wanted to consider more in the range of a threequarter cent bump. The meeting was for discussion only and no official action was taken. Council will be required to hold additional public hearings before a vote is taken. If approved, the tax is expected to be implemented by Thursday, March 1.

For the last 10 months a Fiscal Sustainability Work Group has been meeting once or twice a month to discuss just that — fiscal sustainability. The committee, made up of Ronald Budnick, Kurt Gehlbach, Doris Granatowski, Lou Harper, Charlotte Hosseini, Sedona Fire District Fire Chief Kris Kazian, Holli Ploog and Economic Development Director Molly Spangler, covered several topics including fund balance, bonds and funding sources.

The group unanimously voted to recommend the following to city council: 

  • Increase the city sales tax rate by 1 percent to be dedicated to the funding of transportation-related projects and the cost of additional personnel and project management toaccelerate the completion of those projects. n Set a sunset on the tax increase of 10 years, or less if deemed appropriate. 
  • Continue to fund other non-transportation-related projects with the current funding sources. They also recommended council adopt changes to the current fund balance policy and debt policy. 

City Manager Justin Clifton presented the council a breakdown of the dozen or so traffic mitigation projects that have been discussed. He listed each along with what percentage of each that could be undertaken [50 to 100 percent] yet still be effective. In the end, Clifton presented an estimated budget over the next 10 years of nearly $35 million. 

This cost would be covered by both a tax increase and use of capital reserves. The estimated cost to fully fund all the projects is around $62 million.

“The really big caveat to this is that we understand that this particular arrangement of projects and revenue assumptions is likely to change quite a lot,” Clifton said after the meeting. “In other words, it’s really not a commitment to complete the projects as they’re outlined on the spreadsheet. Rather, it reflects that there are various scenarios that could play out but that in any event we should be able to complete a lot of great projects with a half-cent sales tax.”

An increase to the sales tax rate only requires adoption by council via an ordinance. If this option is pursued, the group recommends that outreach meetings be held with the community to explain the reason for the increase. If a half-cent tax is approved, the rate in the Yavapai County part of Sedona would increase to 9.85 percent while in the Coconino County side [Uptown and the Chapel area] it would be 10.4 percent.

Based on recent figures, a half-percent tax increase would equate to $2.7 million a year with $1.8 million coming from visitors and $900,000 from residents. A 1 percent hike would bring in $5.3 million, $3.5 million of which would come from visitors and $1.8 million from locals. A half-cent increase would equate to about $7.50 in additional spending a month for the average resident.

“My assertion is, whatever we think we’re doing today, won’t hold a year,” Clifton said. “We had an initial idea of building Barbara’s Park and it changed. Each and every one of these will go up or down in future years — unanticipated or anticipated. There will be things not on this list that I can almost guarantee will find its way on to the list. There will also be things we assume we will do that we won’t do. All of the above is true.”

Different month, but same message.

National Night Out, a program celebrated by millions across the country, has been held in Sedona for many years. But this year, it will be switched from the traditional August date to Saturday, Oct. 7. This free event will run from 3 to 5 p.m. at Posse Grounds Park.

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