Sedona AZ (September 29, 2017) – The following is a letter to the SedonaEye.com Editor
ARIZONA LIBERTY has just released the final video in its current series of 14 videos analyzing the Sedona Fire District’s management, operations, finances and, most importantly, the bond issue.
The video series provides Fire District voters with a detailed look, based on publicly available information, at how their tax dollars have been and are being spent. In addition, the videos provide details of capital projects that are included in the bond issue.
Fire District taxpayers have received their 2017 county tax statements. In checking with residents, this year’s Fire District property taxes are approximately 9% higher than 2016 and more than double those paid in 2011. Fire District taxes are about 27% of the total tax bill and are more than School District taxes.
From 2011 through 2017, the Fire District’s “covered area” and “population protected” have not increased. During the same period, while consumer prices (CPI) have increased only 7%, the Fire District’s operations employees (excluding administrative staff) have increased 13%; personnel expenses (salaries and benefits) have increased 31% and total expenses have increased 47%. More than 15 times of your taxes ($78 million) are spent for personnel expenses than for capital outlays ($5 million), excluding the more than $2 million spent to build the Chapel Area Station #6.
Now, in addition to its Governing Board-approved $17 million annual operating budget, the Fire District wants the taxpayers to vote for an $18 million bond issue. The $18 million(plus an estimated $3 million of interest) will finance projects, including almost $9 million to demolish and rebuild the Uptown Sedona Station #4 and relocate the Oak Creek Canyon Station #5 inside the Slide Rock State Park.
If approved, bond proceeds will also be used to build a new dedicated maintenance facility; build additional parking; repair heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems; and renovate kitchens, work spaces, day room areas and training rooms. Much of this could have been completed using annual operating budget monies instead of continually paying higher salaries and benefits.
None of the $21 million (bond plus interest) spending will make Sedona residents safer and none of the District’s fire stations are “crumbling.” Let’s not forget that the Governing Board’s vote was not unanimous in favor of going forward with the bond issue, but rather a 3-2 vote, not an overwhelming endorsement of spending of “other people’s money.” And, finally, in a June 14th editorial, the Red Rock News stated, “this newspaper will not support an $18 million bond.” We, the taxpayers, must manage our expenses and so should the Fire District.
Therefore, ARIZONA LIBERTY is recommending taxpayers VOTE NO on the bond issue.
You will be receiving a paper, mail-in ballot during the week of October 16th. Before you vote, please review our video by clicking at the link below and make an informed decision:
Video - Click on the film strip for the Plan
WHY THE FIRE DISTRICT BOND ISSUE VOTE SHOULD BE A NO