Three Sedona City Council members kept their promise to follow the will of the people Tuesday, Feb. 22, and voted no on taking back State Route 89A from the Arizona Department of Transportation.
Mayor Rob Adams and Councilmen Mark DiNunzio and Dan McIlroy listened to the majority of residents and voted accordingly, and we say thank you to them for their commitment to democracy.
Thank you particularly to McIlroy, who had been thought to support the takeback and later changed his vote because a takeback was not the what the majority wanted.
The city of Sedona spent staff time and tens of thousands of dollars to educate the public only for four council members to disregard and challenge the findings because they were not in line with how those council members had already decided to vote.
Tuesday’s meeting, along with the education process and a $14,675 survey — $8,325 for residential and $6,350 for businesses — were a complete waste of taxpayer dollars and staff time. Council members Barbara Litrell, Mike Ward, Cliff Hamilton and Dennis Rayner weren’t interested in what Sedona’s residents wanted unless it fit with their agendas and demands of special interest groups.
The scientific survey conducted by a professional marketing company was also challenged by the very council members who ordered it to be done. Why did they challenge their own study? Because it didn’t come back with the results they were looking for.
The timing of the survey was cited as why the results were no longer valid. It’s funny those council members weren’t questioning when the survey would be taken and how much information residents would have prior to questioning when they thought it would come back in their favor.
Instead, those council members cited unscientific polls taken by biased sources. We conduct a poll every week on our website and have never once cited it as a true gauge of the public’s sentiment. We know online polls aren’t scientific and never try to pass them off as such. We learned that in journalism school.
We commend Litrell for her effort to gather information. However, research gathered with an open mind is often much different than information found when looking for ways to sell your idea.
Despite the passion evident in both camps, the audience followed Adams’ direction and treated each other with respect regardless of a person’s position. The only outburst came from Raynor who shouted at a West Sedona businessman during public comment.
Federal and state representatives often don’t listen to the people, and we’ve come to expect that from those government officials. It’s sad to see that attitude and abuse of power has trickled down to the local level.
The hot platform during Sedona elections lately has been “listening to the people.” So far, Adams and McIlroy are the only two who have kept that promise. DiNunzio, who was appointed to council, also listens to residents even though he never promised he would.
Now the city has a contract stating ADOT, the government agency that cannot afford to plow snow off State Route 89A north of Sedona a couple of times a year, will supposedly pay them almost $11 million by June 30 and thus lights will not be installed in West Sedona. That $11 million isn’t going to pay for much when it comes to safety improvements or road maintenance, and the chances the city will ever receive additional funds becomes less likely as our entire state struggles financially.
So the question becomes, how can Sedona afford to make State Route 89A safe to protect residents and visitors and avoid liability, and how can it pay for future maintenance? The city has already cut contributions to service groups and nonprofits because tax revenue is down, and sales tax revenue isn’t expected to rise significantly anytime soon.
Sales tax alone won’t pay for the roadway. Thanks to the wisdom of four council members, residents can expect different forms of taxation in the future — property tax and taxes on groceries come to mind.
Written by Managing Editor Trista Steers with input from Publisher Robert B. Larson