Starting Thursday, July 1, Sedona residents will pay more for sewer service.

The Sedona City Council approved increasing the rates for the first time in 14 years by a 6-1 vote Tuesday, April 13, with Councilman Jerry Frey dissenting.

For residential single family units, the fee for next year will increase 15 percent from $32.54 to $37.42, before increasing by 10 percent in each of the next three years, topping out at $57.28 for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

wastewatertreatmentFor indoor restaurants, the rates will increase from $10.08 to $11.59 per seat for next year. The rate will increase the following year to $13.33 for every seat the restaurant has and cap out at $17.74 in fiscal year 2014-2015.

City Manager Tim Ernster said there are major infrastructure needs at the wastewater treatment plant and the fee increases do not mean the city will stop subsidizing rates through sales tax revenues.

“This plan will not do that,” he said.

Several residents opposed the increase of sewer rates.

Cynthia Nasta said sewer fees are especially unfair to landlords, and added they become collectors for the city. She said if a renter defaults, the landlord is held responsible.

“This is ridiculous,” she said. “The city has penalized me.”

Tyler Barrett said many people in these tough economic times are not able to afford increases and asked for the decision to be postponed.

“Now is not the time for a new enterprise,” Barrett said.

Joy Girardin told council it takes a lot of nerve to raise rates when a few of them are not on the city’s sewer line, and therefore pay nothing.

”It makes no sense to increase rates,” Girardin said. “It is an abuse of power. I am so furious that anyone would have the [guts] to increase the rates when things are bad. How can you sit there and ask for an increase when three of you don’t pay? That takes nerve. That takes gall. This does not make any sense to me.”

She called every council lousy, and said they never get better.

“It’s ridiculous. It stuns me,” she said. “You should be ashamed for bringing this up when things are bad.”

Businessman Al Spector supported the increase, even though it will cost him more revenue than most other residents.

He said if 46 percent of the bed and sales tax is subsidized for sewer fees, he pays about $1 million toward this, and added no sewer increases for 14 years was a bad decision.

Sedona Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jennifer Wesselhoff said chamber members support the rate increase. She also said the board of directors for the chamber understands there has been no rate increase the last 14 years.

“We believe it is fair,” she said. “I cannot think of another organization that has not increased their rates in 14 years.”

Assistant City Manager Alison Zelms said the new sewer fees are lower than what Glendale and Avondale charge, but higher than Camp Verde.

Councilwoman Pud Colquitt said rates had to increase.

“This is not going to be a motion I like making, ” she said. “I am sorry, but the city has a responsibility, and we need to move forward.”

Mayor Rob Adams said the sewer rate issue had been going on for a long time and council needed to make a decision.

“I really believe it is the right thing to do for the city as a whole,” Adams said.

Councilwoman Nancy Scagnelli said the city cannot continue to spend 46 percent of sales tax revenue to subsidize sewer fees.

“It is irresponsible for us not to do anything,” she said.

The Sedona City Council on Tuesday, April 13, looked into deferring the time individuals have to connect with its sewer system.

The capacity fee for homes linking into the city’s sewer system will be $5,325 effective Thursday, July 1. The policy gives homeowners six months to comply after letters are sent out informing residents their homes are ready for connection.

mike_goimaracIn July 2011, the capacity fee would increase to $7,669, and council asked the amount to be phased in over three years.

City Attorney Mike Goimarac said phasing in this increase would result in the city being behind for this service on what it should be charging in the first two years.

After being told it would not cost the city a huge amount, Mayor Rob Adams said he would be OK with the phase-in.

Because the proposal and terms were changing, council directed staff to come back to them once the language was changed to reflect what is wanted.

charles_mosleyCity Engineer Charles Mosley said home owners can continue to use their septic systems for five years if inspected and determined to be in good working condition. They also could ask for another five years if another inspection was done to show the system was in good shape.

However, the home owner would have to pay the monthly nonuser fee, which is 50 percent more than what other residents using the city’s sewer system pay.

Home owners choosing to stay with septic systems still would need to pay the capacity fee of $5,325, so they will be able to connect with the city’s sewer system in the future.

Lucinda Olson, a resident of the Chapel area, questioned why some home owners in this area are being asked to pay higher rates than what other residents paid in this same location.

“You are asking a small group of people to bear a huge sum,” she said.

Tyler Barrett said he has a perfectly good working sewer system and wondered why he can’t prepay the capacity fee.

Cole Greenburg said he had a perfectly working septic system, too, and believes the city made a mistake when deciding to sewer the Chapel area.

“I have no defense against my government,” he said. “I am [upset], and I am probably going to be leaving Sedona over this.”

The Chapel residents not connected to the city’s sewer system will be able to do so in August, and home owners would have had 180 days to pay the capacity fees from this month, though council is asking the deadline to be extended to one year.

Adams said since the city forced Chapel home owners to hook up with the city’s sewer service, exceptions need to made, and he added giving them extra time to come up with capacity fees is a good start.

Goimarac said there were many places in the proposal where he would have to change the 180 days wording to 360 days, and City Manager Tim Ernster asked council if staff could bring the proposal back to them so the changes could be included.

The Devil's Corner

Photos by Michele Bradley and Michael Maresh

fatalcarwreckmike1A two-vehicle accident at approximately one p.m. on Thursday April 15 at the State Route 89A and Page Springs Road intersection left one woman dead and caused serious injuries to two other passengers of a Ford Focus.

Former wrangler shows one man can make a difference

When a person sees a problem that needs someone to do something, it is usually the person who sees it who is supposed to do something.

helpforhomelessA Sedona man recently took that concept to heart after he read a letter to the editor in the Sedona Red Rock News.

“I read a letter about a year ago that the homeless needed help, so I set out to find a way,” Ken Dungan said as he sat in the shade outside his home twirling a double- handle cane he made. “I’ve been homeless myself by choice, making bad decisions. So I know what it’s like.”

One day, when Dungan decided he had enough of being homeless, and wanted to be comfortable and take care of himself like he always had before, he went out and “pounded the concrete” until he found a job.

Dungan had come to the Sedona area since he was a child of 6. His grandfather, Isaac McBride, lived in Indian Gardens, and he would visit him often. As he grew up Dungan started to “cowboy” and became the head wrangler at the Bradshaw Ranch.

“We worked our fingers to the bone and had a ball doing it,” Dungan said and laughed behind his long, well-combed beard. Dungan also worked for Kachina Stables and for Georgia Frontiere. “I’ve cowboyed everywhere it seems. Even when I was a little boy I delivered my papers on horseback.”

Dungan said he never made a whole lot of money as a cowboy but that it didn’t matter so much — it’s the love of the trail.

“I’ve had broken bones all over my body and had my teeth knocked out. You just learn from it and go again,” Dungan said.

Now since the lanky, former cowboy is out of the working circuit, he has turned his energies into helping the homeless through a new nonprofit he created, Help for the Homeless. He is in the process of applying for a grant to start a fund and get the word out about the fund and how others can help.

“I’m working on getting money in the bank to help people who’ve suffered a tragedy and need some money to help get them going again,” Dungan said. “I work under the umbrella of Cornucopia [Community Advocates]. All the money I get from fundraising will go directly to Cornucopia and put in the Help for the Homeless fund. I never touch the money. I just put in my energy.”

At this point there is not much money in the fund, maybe $175, according to Cornucopia Community Advocates President Harvey Grady.

“Ken [Dugan]’s heart is in the right place and he has a great idea. Homelessness is a growing problem. On my way home today [Friday, April 9] there was a couple and their dog in one of the roundabouts here in the Village of Oak Creek. They had a sign that read, ‘Homeless and hungry,’” Grady said.

Dungan has already started to raise money by sales of his “seed” packets. He has placed them in several stores and all the money will go into the fund.

The seeds are a novelty item. For example, a person can purchase Cow Seeds, a herd starter kit; and Cowboy Seeds to grow a cowboy, which contains several pinto beans that must be planted right side up. The directions are on the back of the label.

“It’s just a little fun for folks,” Dungan said and grinned. “More seriously, I plan to start a thrift store in town, and as things progress I’d like to start a hostel so there’s a place for homeless people to sleep in a bed.”

Grady, who is working closely with Dungan, said the program is still in its infancy but once Help for the Homeless becomes fine-tuned as to its focus it can get off the ground.

“Now anyone who wants to help the homeless can do it through this fund. We’ll give them a receipt for a tax deduction, too,” Grady said.

Dungan said he feels really good about what he has started and hopes Help for the Homeless will do some real good for people who are homeless.

“We gotta help each other out. It’s just the right thing to do,” Dungan said.

To contact Cornucopia, call 284-3284.

The struggling economy resulted in eight city employees being notified last week they were being laid off.

The majority of the eight worked through or on Friday, April 9.

tim_ernsterCity Manager Tim Ernster said while eight employees were affected, one of them was given a part-time position.

Included in the layoffs were two police sergeants, a building inspector, an administrative services director for the City Clerk’s Office, a half-time information and referral specialist, a parks and recreation coordinator and two public works employees.

One of the public works employees will work through Wednesday, June 30, while the other one will be employed through Friday, Dec. 31.

Ernster said besides the workers whose last day was Friday, there are an additional two positions being phased out.

The layoffs will save the city about $525,000, and Ernster said the savings will be reflected in the upcoming budget, not the current one.

A press release from the city stated that achieving a balanced budget for next year, having a stable budgetary position for the long-term, and maintaining a reasonable level of service to the public required eliminating some positions. The result includes several position title changes and movement of several existing positions and functional areas to subsets of existing departments.

Last Friday’s layoff brings the total reduction of positions since June 2008 to 23. The elimination of positions and employees affects every department in the city and reflects a 15.7 percent reduction in staffing levels the past two years.

Besides the $525,000 savings for the next fiscal year, $1.2 million of non-personnel related expenditures were eliminated in January.

The city will finalize its proposed fiscal year 2010-2011 budget in the next few weeks, and budget workshops are scheduled to begin the first week of May.

Ernster said the layoffs were expected, mentioning he informed the Sedona City Council on

Jan. 27 there would be reductions of service coming in April.

“We have been spending the last few weeks [putting] this together,” he said.

Ernster said he does not foresee any additional layoffs, but added there could be decreases in services.

He said some layoffs were made simply because there was less work to do.

He also said staff will pick up the extra work that was the responsibility of the former employees.

Residents in the city also could be affected to some degree.

“There will be some reductions in service,” he said.

Yavapai County Community Health Services food inspections.

Week of March 21 to 27.

  • Brandi’s Kitchen, 1695 E Cottonwood St. Suite J, Cottonwood.
    Violation: Non-critical items not in compliance.
  • Chester Newton’s Charter School, 30 E. SR 260, Camp Verde.
    No violations
  • Cottonwood Auto Spa/Java Joint, 950 S. Camino Real, Cottonwood.
    Violations: Employees hands and exposed arms not clean and properly washed as necessary; non-critical items not in compliance.
  • Cottonwood Headstart, 1 N. Willard, Cottonwood.
    Violation: Non-critical items not in compliance.
  • La Fonda, 2750 W. Horseshoe Bend Drive, Camp Verde.
    Violation: Non-critical items not in compliance.
  • Little Caesar’s, 841 S Main St., Suite 103, Cottonwood.
    No violations.
  • Los Betos, 1580 W. SR 260 B, Camp Verde.
    Violations: Potentially hazardous foods not held at proper cold holding temperature; food safety plan not implemented and followed; non-critical items not in compliance.
  • Murphy’s Grill, 747 S. Main St., Cottonwood.
    Violations: Employees hands and exposed arms not clean and properly washed as necessary; potentially hazardous foods are not correctly date marked; consumer advisories are not properly implemented; food safety plan not implemented and followed, non-critical items not in compliance.
  • Sonic No. 3385, 1050 E. SR 89A, Cottonwood.
    No violations.
  • Strombolli’s Restaurant, 321 S. Main St., Cottonwood.
    Non-critical items not in compliance.
  • Tacos Los Altos, 324 Main St, Cottonwood.
    No violations.

The six police chief applicants who will participate in the city’s final selection process Wednesday, April 21, through Friday, April 23, have experience working in much larger communities.

paulbarrows

Paul Barrows

Paul Barrows, 54, is a police captain with the city of West Des Moines, Iowa, which has a population of about 55,000.

Barrows has worked in law enforcement for 31 years, and has been a police captain the last 12 years.

He has a master’s degree in public administration and his experiences include being a support services commander, executive officer for the chief, operations commander, director of consolidate dispatch center, administrative services commander and public information officer.

 

richardcloreRichard Clore

Richard Clore, 54, a police captain for the 8,700 population community of the Salt River Pima/Maricopa Indian Community, has worked in law enforcement for 33 years, and 31 of those years were with the Mesa Police Department, policing 460,000 people.

Clore’s highest police rank was commander and he worked in that position for seven years.

He also earned a master’s degree in public administration and is the acting director for the Family Advocate Center.

Clore was the director of the Law Enforcement Training Academy and previously served as interim assistant chief of police, patrol commander and operational commander.

 

dondanielDon Daniel

Don Daniel, the deputy chief in Casa Grande — population 42,000 — has worked 29 years in law enforcement.

The highest rank he has held during his career was as the chief of police for five months.

He received a master’s degree in personnel management and was also the chief of U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Agency, deputy chief of two separate agencies and a patrol commander.

 

roneverettRonald Everett

Ronald Everett, 56, recently retired from the New Braunfels Police Department in Texas where he was the chief.

Everett has worked in law enforcement for the past 30 years and was the police chief for a community of more than 51,000 people for three years.

He has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and listed experience as the assistant police chief for three

years prior to becoming the chief.

 

Craig Novick

Craig Novick, 52, has been the police chief for the Franklin Township Police Department in New Jersey for 10 years, policing 50,000 people.

Novick has also worked in law enforcement for 28 years and earned a master’s degree in both business and psychology.

His law enforcement experience includes his time as a police chief, operations commander and the criminal investigative division commander.

 

raymondcota

Raymond Cota

Raymond Cota, 47, has been a police captain the last six years for the city of Corona, Calif, population 150,000.

Cota has worked in law enforcement for 30 years and has a bachelor’s in public administration.

Cota has worked as a field service commander, inventory store commander, support services commander, assistant to the chief and a patrol bureau commander.

Sedona Red Rock High School students Dylan Watkins and Brooke Biermann represent the vast majority of their classmates who text message friends and others while driving.

textmessagingThe Arizona Senate last month approved Senate Bill 1334, a text messaging bill prohibiting drivers operating a motor vehicle from using cell phone to read, write or send text messages.

Senate Bill 1334 would impose fines of $50 for operating a motor vehicle on a highway while using a handheld cellular telephone to text in any format.

If the driver was involved in an accident while using a handheld device, the penalty would increase to $200.

Watkins, a senior, said he drives while texting all the time and has gotten to the point where he can do it without looking at the phone.

“It’s not going to stop me,” he said of the bill and fine.

Biermann, a junior, also said the bill would not stop her from texting while driving, but admitted she has to look at her phone while texting because it is a touch phone.

Biermann said she stills pays attention to the road and follows all the laws.

Both Watkins and Biermann wonder how officers could prove they was texting if the phone is not visible.

“I can [text] so they are not aware,” Watkins said.

Watkins has been driving for two years and texting the entire time.

Biermann has been driving and texting for a year, and she said she knows it’s wrong but does it anyway.

Both students said they are not alone, claiming 90 percent of students who drive text message while behind the wheel.

“It’s just what I am used to doing,” Watkins said. “It’s a habit of mine.”

Watkins said he can drive and text with any phone and has done so, saying it really does not make a difference what he uses.

Biermann said she has to look and feel to see what letters are being pressed.

Watkins and Biermann agree the $50 fine is about right, as is the proposed $200 fine for being involved in an accident while texting.

SRRHS l Resource Officer Sean Marchese does not think the proposed text messaging bill will stop teenagers from texting while driving.

Marchese said students at the high school are constantly texting their friends and it spills over into their driving.

“It’s so ingrained in their lives,” he said. “It’s like a second nature to them. It’s dangerous.”

Marchese said common sense tells people that those texting while driving will take their eyes off the roadway.

“It’s a step up from being impaired,” he said. “You have lost connection to the road.”

As the school resource officer, Marchese said he has seen how text messaging on cell phones has taken off.

He is in charge of the Explorers, a law-enforcement-based teen program, and said it is not uncommon for him to receive text messages from students, but he calls them back rather than sending them a text.

He said this bill would be beneficial.

“As a driver, you have to obey the laws and they [should not lose] focus on driving that vehicle in a confident manner,” Marchese said.

Marchese said the texting craze has taken the place of individuals grooming or eating while behind the wheel, but he thinks those pale in comparison.

He agreed with Watkins and Biermann that fines will not be enough to stop drivers from texting, but he hopes it brings awareness to the issue.

Online Poll

What do you donate to during the holidays?

Sedona Gas Prices

Lowest Gas Prices in Sedona
Sedona Gas Prices provided by GasBuddy.com
Sedona United States Sunny, 57 °F
Current Conditions
Sunrise: 7:27 am   |   Sunset: 5:17 pm
8%     7.0 mph     28.683 bar
Forecast
Fri Low: 28 °F High: 57 °F
Sat Low: 28 °F High: 50 °F
Sun Low: 29 °F High: 49 °F
Mon Low: 22 °F High: 52 °F
Tue Low: 18 °F High: 52 °F
Wed Low: 28 °F High: 54 °F
Thu Low: 25 °F High: 47 °F
Fri Low: 18 °F High: 45 °F
Sat Low: 24 °F High: 49 °F
Sun Low: 25 °F High: 49 °F