Our city of Sedona finances are a matter of public record and in my many years of reviewing the city budget, Sedona is very good at making public records available to all Sedona residents.
All the financial information residents want to know, and then some, is available for inspection on the Web at www.SedonaAz.gov. Residents can also retrieve all the city financial information they can handle from the Sedona city clerk.
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In fact, the city is so good at reporting financial information that in 2006, the Government Finance Officers Association, a national organization, awarded Sedona a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting. It was the eighth time the group recognized Sedona for its comprehensive annual financial reports that achieve the highest standards in government reporting and financial accounting.
A review of the city’s financial records show Sedona enjoys an “A” rating on its bonds. That means lenders can confidently rely on the city to pay off the $75 million it owes in debt.
Debts have increased since 2000, but so have demands on the city’s infrastructure. Many projects are currently under-way to improve the drainage and sewer systems in our city. Residents support these projects because they are likely to protect the environment and improve our quality of life.
There’s been a lot of loose talk about the actual amount of debt the city must pay. Some point out the interest on $74.9 million is roughly $50 million. They claim the city is trying to hide its true debt burden of $120 million.
That is incorrect.
When the city makes a decision we believe to be fiscally unsound, we are usually the first to complain about it, but arguing the city is misrepresenting its true financial condition is a bunch of baloney.
Besides being untrue, it is a scare tactic that is unfair to the voters and unworthy of the thoughtful, forthright candidates currently running for city office. The city, just this past week, issued another “bullet-point” presentation of its finances and everything seems in order.
A better issue would be for candidates to discuss how they would help our city manager improve our bond rating, a factor that could reduce the amount of interest it pays on future bonds. Instead, many of the candidates just want to take shots at our city staff and current council. This is wrong.
Instead of promoting doubt and fear among our residents and coming up with these myriad conspiracy theories, let’s debate the real issues that face Sedona and help the city in all our efforts.
After all, as I have said before, let’s knock off the bickering, deal with the facts and move forward to keep Sedona the city that the rest of the country envies and would like to become.