While driving around town it’s easy to see there are more people visiting Sedona.
On Saturday night, July 7, around 9:30 p.m. my husband and I rolled into town after a 14-hour drive not expecting to see much.
We figured traffic through Oak Creek Canyon and at least Uptown would be sparse.
We were wrong, very wrong.
A long line of cars with out-of-town license plates made their way from Flagstaff to Sedona. We waited patiently behind drivers timid to take unknown curves too fast who also braked along straightaways.
Once we finally reached the city limits, to our pleasant surprise, parking along State Route 89A was packed. It would have been difficult to find a spot.
People strolled the sidewalks, ate at outdoor tables at several of the restaurants and enjoyed music in Uptown bars.
Were we really in Sedona?
What we found wasn’t the sleepy Sedona that shuts down with the sunset.
Some of the shops even stayed open past the assumed 6 p.m. closing time taking advantage of nighttime shoppers.
Further down the highway in West Sedona, we found the same thing.
We’ve seen visitor volume vary before, and it hasn’t always meant more money for the city of Sedona, which relies almost entirely on sales tax to support its operations.
The recession brought a tourist drought, and when people finally came back, they weren’t spending money.
Travelers became more fiscally conservative, still visiting shops but walking out empty-handed.
Now, however, it appears consumer confidence is improving, and so is Sedona’s revenue stream.
The city reported last week sales tax collection is showing signs of improvement based on numbers from April, and it expects those to trend upward through May and June.
The city took in $972,510 in revenue in April and reported total expenditures of only $603,159. Financial Services Director Barbara Ashley said the city is anticipating finishing fiscal year 2011-12 with a surplus of as much as $300,000.
While tax collection may never return to what the city saw when the economy was booming, a combination of higher revenue and frugal spending learned in the lean times might be just the right balance.
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