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 Sedona City Council agreed to pay part of the costs for a neighborhood undergrounding project under an agreement that expired in November 2006. On Feb. 13, council unanimously approved a maximum of $19,073 for a project on Dry Creek Road that?s been in the works for over two years.

By Trista Steers
Larson Newspapers
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Sedona City Council agreed to pay part of the costs for a neighborhood undergrounding project under an agreement that expired in November 2006.

On Feb. 13, council unanimously approved a maximum of $19,073 for a project on Dry Creek Road that?s been in the works for over two years.

Council postponed funding until the July 2007 to June 2008 fiscal year.

Council found public benefit from the residents? efforts on Dry Creek Road south of North Slopes Drive to justify funding a project that didn?t follow standard procedure.

Normally, parties interested in undergrounding utilities with the city?s financial help had to ask before construction.

The prior contract between Arizona Public Service and the city said APS would pay 45 percent of the cost of undergrouding utilities and the city would pay two-thirds of the remaining 55 percent. Neighborhoods or residents were responsible for the remaining balance.

According to the city, it was up to APS to inform residents of the funding option.

This contract ended in November.

Terry Nash, a resident involved in the undergrounding, told council APS didn?t mention the contract. Nash is one of six neighbors who?ve contributed.

Sandy Mineer, APS customer service representative for the Sedona area, said APS always mentioned the partnership between the city and APS.

Often, Mineer said, residents chose not to take the city route because it made the project last even longer.

Mineer said APS already charged residents for undergrounding and that won?t change.

?There isn?t any reason for us to [pay under the defunct contract],? Mineer said.

Councilman Rob Adams said he believed the neighborhood was unaware of the option and the city shouldn?t have left it up to APS to inform residents.

?I think it?s inexcusable they failed to notify you,? Adams said.

City Manager Eric Levitt said this was the first time he had heard of APS not mentioning the contract.

Levitt initially denied the request on grounds that council didn?t approve funding before construction and the project would compete with other projects for funding.

Had the proposal come before council prior to construction, it probably would have been approved, Levitt said.

Council needed to determine if the work done by the residents offered public benefit, City Attorney Mike Goimarac said. Undergrounding, Goimarac said, has been considered an aesthetic benefit in the past.

Nash said tourists often stop in his neighborhood to take pictures of sunsets and rock

formations in the area. Undergrounding utilities in the area will improve the views for residents and visitors alike.

Seven poles and utility lines connecting them will be removed.

?I think it?s commendable the homeowners took it upon themselves to make this happen,? Councilman Ramon Gomez said.

Only two other neighborhoods in Sedona participated in undergrounding projects under the contract in the 15 years it was in effect, according to Levitt.

Mineer said for the contract to be renewed, Levitt will have to initiate discussions.

Levitt said he believes council is interested in pursuing another contract but some improvements need to be made. At this time, Levitt said, he doesn?t know exactly what those changes will be.


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