It really is all about the money when it comes to your decision regarding the takeover of State Route 89A.
The city of Sedona taking ownership of the state highway in West Sedona would be a major financial mistake.
It’s impossible to project exactly how much it would cost the city to own a major state highway, and now isn’t the time to take financial risks.
On the verge of what some say could be a second dip into recession, biting off a multimillion-dollar project with no end in sight and more staff needed to manage the project would not be “fiscally responsible,” as candidates for Sedona City Council — including those currently seated — always claim is their goal.
Many of the roads the city currently owns need attention. This needs to happen before adding miles of highway to the equation should even be considered, not to mention other high-priority or absolutely necessary projects yet to be funded, such as fixing our drainage issues.
If the city can’t afford routine maintenance on Sedona’s side streets, how will it pay to maintain a roadway used not only by residents but by the thousands of tourists who visit Sedona each year?
Add to the equation a stripped-down staff and other expenses surface.
The city engineer currently also serves as the head of the public works department and oversees wastewater treatment operations for the city. Will he also be responsible for State Route 89A? Or, more likely, will he have to hire staff to help him? And who will do the actual work on the road? Will the city contract out all the work — filling potholes and cracks, resurfacing, maintaining sidewalks, clearing debris off the roadway including snow? Or would the city buy heavy machinery to do the jobs in-house? Either way, it’s going to be very expensive.
Now, we ask those in favor of taking over the road, how will the city pay for all of this? Over the past few years the city cut staff and programs because it collected less sales tax than in years past.
Eventually, the city will need lots of money if it takes ownership of State Route 89A. A higher sales tax won’t be the answer. With a combined city, county and state sales tax of over 10 percent in the city, raising the sales tax is out of the question. Do these road advocates also condone a city property tax to pay for their desires?
The bottom line is the city can’t afford the roadway, period. Even if it could, it would be the most financially irresponsible decision made since the incorporation of Sedona.
The city currently has over $60 million in bond debt that will not retire for 20 years. Add to that more than $25 million in critical infrastructure projects, which is just over half of the $40 million needed for all identified capital projects.
Which necessary projects will be pushed to the back burner? Who is going to tell the homeowners whose houses flood every time it rains that ownership of the highway is more important than fixing drainage problems?
It’s not about street lights vs. no streetlights anymore.
Proponents of taking ownership of the road claim Sedona will be able to do whatever it wishes with the roadway, which is not true. The report commissioned by the city and issued by CivTech clearly states the minimum recommended improvements are continuous raised medians, pedestrian barriers throughout the length of the medians and enhanced pedestrian crossing.
Anyone who votes to take ownership of the road can’t claim fiscal responsibility as one of their desires for the future of the city of Sedona. Committing to spending large, unknown sums of cash to prevent dark-sky-compliant lighting from saving lives is insane.
We encourage you to vote NO on 410!