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Residents often take for granted the services provided by a city.

Without a public works department, who would maintain city sidewalks, keep weeds under control or treat and dispose of your wastewater?

Without a police department, who would respond to emergencies and protect us from criminals?

Sedona Red Rock News Managing Editor Trista Steers MacVittieWithout a parks and recreation department, who would organize youth basketball, adult softball and put on music and art classes along with community events?

All of these things happen because they are included in the operations of the city of Sedona. All of these duties, events and perks cost money.

Sedona residents decide this month whether the city should continue to operate under home rule, also known as the alternative expenditure limitation. If residents value the services provided by the city, which aren’t extravagant, they better vote yes.

Otherwise, the city budget will be cut drastically, which means an end to many of the services currently enjoyed by residents.

If voters do not approve home rule, the city faces a fiscal year 2012-13 budget of $21,525,630, rather than $32,005,977.

The first items to go will be those we see and appreciate, because they are often the benefits a city provides not because it absolutely has to, but because it wants to improve the quality of life of its residents.

Access to a public pool, a regional transit service, police involvement in public safety education and beautiful parks aren’t amenities a city is required to provide and maintain.

These are perks to living in a city where money is managed wisely, and funds can be used to make life better without bloating the budget.

The idea behind requiring residents to approve home rule is to ensure municipalities don’t get out of control. This is not the case in Sedona.

A quick glance at other Verde Valley community budgets reveals Sedona government isn’t the overinflated monster some claim.

Sedona’s budget for FY 2011-12 is $34,335,463.

The city of Cottonwood’s budget for the same year is $78,422,500. Cottonwood operates its own fire department, but it also pays for a library and recreation center, perks afforded to its residents under home rule.

The town of Clarkdale’s budget comes in around $30 million. Clarkdale has just over half the population of Sedona, and its residents pay property tax.

In Sedona, residents only produce a small portion of the revenue the city takes in locally each year. They don’t pay property tax to the city, and they don’t pay a grocery tax.

City sales tax comes from bed and sales tax. When was the last time a resident stayed in one of Sedona’s fine hotels? How frequently do residents shop for items other than food in Sedona?

Vote “yes” on home rule unless you want to see city services disappear.

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