It’s been one of the most discussed topics in the Sedona area this year — the $17.9 million bond proposed by the Sedona Fire District.
The first and only open forum on the topic will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 18 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Christ Lutheran Church at 25 Chapel Road. The event is being hosted by the League of Women Voters Greater Verde Valley.
In terms of format, there will be an opening statement outlining what the bond is and what it’s for. A presenter is yet to be determined. Then, both pro and con speakers will each have 10 minutes for opening statements, with the order determined by a coin toss.
The remainder of the forum will be questions written by the audience but presented by members of the LWV. The side a question is addressed to will be given two minutes for answers and one minute for rebuttals. Then each side will be given a brief opportunity for closing remarks.
Those speaking in favor of the issue are bond committee members Wendy Tanzer and Gary Johnson while those speaking in opposition will be Dwight Kadar and Michael Schroeder.
This bond, like any other, is voted upon by the residents. However, this is a mail-in ballot for the Nov. 7 election. Ballots will be mailed out to registered voters next week.
The Proposed Bond
In June, the SFD Governing Board voted 3-2 in favor of moving forward with a $17.9 million bond, which will now go to the voters in November. Treasurer Corrie Cooperman and Chairman Ty Montgomery were the dissenting votes.
Both said they were in favor of a bond but more in the range of $12.9 million. Cooperman said her concern with the $17.9 million is that it may be too high of an amount to pass.
When this process began, Chief Kris Kazian estimated that SFD would need a bond for around $15 million. But as things moved on, the board determined that the amount needed to be increased.
To give some perspective, a $15 million bond would equate to an increase of $17 a year per $100,000 of assessed value of a home. For example, the owners of a home valued at $345,000 would pay nearly $60 more per year. With a $17.9 million bond, that home’s annual increase will be $71, or $20 per $100,000 valuation, Kazian said.
The bond will not just fall on the shoulders of homeowners — businesses and vacant land owners will also pay their share.
The plan calls for replacing Station 4 in Uptown as well as Station 5 in Oak Creek Canyon. Discussion has begun with Arizona State Parks and the U.S. Forest Service to move Station 5 to Slide Rock State Park.
In addition, major improvements and upgrades are proposed for Station 1 in West Sedona and Station 3 in the Village of Oak Creek.
Repairs to Station 1 carries a low estimate of $2.3 million to a high of $2.54 million while Station 3 sees a low of $1.8 million and a high of $2.04 million. The range for Station 4 is $4.45 million to $4.94 million while for Station 5 it’s $2.3 million to $2.6 million.
These costs do not include $1 million for a proposed new maintenance facility for Station 1, an upgrade to SFD’s telecommunication towers and equipment or an additional 10 to 15 percent to cover costs such as architectural, engineering and city fees.