cityofsedonalogoLast year, a vehicle usage study was initiated by the Sedona City Manager’s Office due to concerns regarding the number of city vehicles and fiscal constraints affecting the city.

As a result, the city is auctioning eight additional vehicles and other miscellaneous equipment through publicsurplus.com over the next 45 days with a staggered release date. Those who are interested in viewing the vehicles or other items should go to www.publicsurplus.com and search “Agency” for city of Sedona.

Decreasing the numbers of vehicles and other surplus equipment has several benefits, including the following:

  • Reduced vehicle costs associated with maintenance [on older vehicles], insurance [number of vehicles covered] and eliminated replacement costs for vehicles not replaced.
  • Continued shared usage of vehicles within and among various departments.
  • Implementation of standardized purchasing policy for vehicle replacement.
  • Potential cost savings for storage of surplus equipment.

Check back often to see newly released items for public viewing. If you would like more information, please call the City Manager’s Office at 204-7127.

 

Rabbi Albert Plotkin, 89, founding rabbi of the Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley and a leader in the Phoenix Jewish and interfaith communities, died of a heart attack Feb. 3.

A memorial celebrating his life will be held at the JCSVV synagogue on Tuesday, Feb. 9, at 10 a.m.

Plotkin was an inspiring speaker, champion of civil rights, avid art collector and developed the Jewish Studies Program at Arizona State University, according to Rabbi Alicia Magal, current rabbi of the JCSVV.

Plotkin was also the main impetus for the creation of the Cutler-Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center, housed in the building of Phoenix’s first synagogue. It was hoped that he would be present at the formal opening later this year, but at least he was able to view the renovated building recently, a point of great pride and joy for him, Magal stated.

Plotkin served as Congregation Beth Israel’s spiritual leader in Scottsdale from 1955 through the early 1990s, when he became rabbi emeritus.

During his travels with his beloved wife Sylvia, who died several years ago, he collected an impressive collection which became the basis of the Sylvia Plotkin Judaica Museum, housed at Congregation Beth Israel in Scottsdale, Magal stated.

He did not remain retired for long, but answered the invitation to serve as spiritual leader for the newly formed congregation in Sedona. He served as rabbi of the JCSVV from 1991 until 2005. He encouraged the building of the synagogue, which was dedicated in 2004. The Rabbi Albert and Sylvia Plotkin Sanctuary is named in their honor, Magal stated. When Magal was hired to serve as full-time rabbi for the congregation, he kept up his warm connection with the congregation, she stated.

Plotkin was a community rabbi, active in interfaith programs and supportive of the arts, Magal stated. He continued writing books, lecturing and acting as rabbi emeritus both in Phoenix and Sedona. He had a stirring speaking and singing voice, and always ended his sermons with the Biblical phrase, “Hazak v’amatz,” which means, “Be strong and of great courage,” the words spoken by Moses to Joshua.

“He was a light on the horizon of several generations. That light is not extinguished, but lives on in the thousands he served and counseled, and in his books and teachings,” Magal said.

A funeral was held on Friday, Feb. 5, at Congregation Beth Israel, in Scottsdale.

Donations in his memory may be made to the JCSVV.

Sometimes life and relationships should be looked at with a sense of humor, which famed comedian Rita Rudner will do at the third annual Casino Royale in greater Sedona.

On Saturday, April 3, Rudner will entertain with her puckish smile, lethal wit and soft-spoken delivery to raise money for the Scorpion Booster Club of Sedona Red Rock High School and the Rotary Club of Sedona.

“I’ve always wanted to come to Sedona,” Rudner said in a recent telephone interview. “We’re bringing our little girl, Molly. I like to experience new places with her, and I’m also coming to see my friend, Bonny Singer.” Rudner and her husband and producer, Martin Bergman, adopted Molly in 2002.

Rita-Rudner-2-2-3According to Singer, Rudner will perform her Las Vegas stage show. Since 2001, Rudner has performed almost exclusively in Las Vegas.

Rudner’s show is perfect for the Casino Royale, Singer said. Included in the evening will be blackjack, craps, poker and roulette, along with an auction of wine, jewelry, art, vacations and more. People who attend will be given start-up gaming money, enjoy live music, a buffet and Rudner’s show.

Proceeds from the event go directly toward the latest hands-on computer technology for students as well as programs such as Teen Health and Wellness.

The Rotary’s portion of the funds will sponsor the Student of the Month Scholarship Program at Sedona Red Rock High School, the International Exchange Student Program, the Rotary Youth Leadership, the St. Andrew’s Church community dinners and the Polio Plus Program.

Rudner did well as a dancer, but she saw there were a lot of female dancers in New York but only a few female comedians, so she began researching her favorite comedians, including Woody Allen and Jack Benny.

Rudner appeared on several television shows in the United States and Great Britain, often on “The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson” with lines like, “I was a vegetarian until I started leaning toward the sunlight,” and “I was going to have cosmetic surgery until I noticed that the doctor’s office was full of portraits by Picasso.”

Along the way, Rudner recorded several award-winning comedy specials and her talents include a screenplay with Bergman, “Peter’s Friends,” in which she also acted. She authored books including, “Tickled Pink” and “Turning the Tables.” Rudner created and hosted the improvisational comedy talk-type show “Ask Rita.”

Rudner’s clever observations, sharp timing and style won her Best Comedian in Las Vegas for the past eight years.

Rudner’s appearance in Sedona came about through a conversation with Singer about the Casino Royale.

“I wanted to help Bonny [Singer] and thought it would be a fun thing to do,” Rudner said.

She will tailor her Las Vegas show to fit Sedona, so Rudner will spend some time before the show gathering ideas.

“My favorite thing on stage is to make people laugh. Laughter is healthy. Even though I don’t laugh, it’s cathartic for me to hear them laugh,” Rudner said. “I want everyone to have

a very good time and to be

very generous.”

Rudner has only two requirements: the audience be men and women, and they be alive.

Casino Royale is hosted by Enchantment Resort, 525 Boynton Canyon Road. Advance tickets can be purchased at Bashas’ Sedona, 160 Coffee Pot Drive; Salon Virtu, 1350 W. SR 89A; The Art of Wine at the Shops at Piñon Point, 101 N. SR 89A and at Sedona Red Rock High School, 995 Upper Red Rock Loop Road.

For more information, call 821-2800.

An issue of fairness in the Sedona mayor’s race was brought up Thursday, Jan. 14, at the Keep Sedona Beautiful City Council candidate forum after one candidate did not attend because he wanted to avoid potential open-meeting law violations.

Councilman and mayoral candidate Jerry Frey did not attend the forum after being told by the city attorney it could possibly violate the law, since he and Mayor Rob Adams, running for another term, would be among the third and fourth council members attending.

Sedona-Election-LogoFrey decided not to attend and believed Adams also would not be there to be fair, according to Frey. He was informed KSB would have another forum just for the two mayor candidates in the next week or two.

On Thursday night Adams asked the more than 100 audience members in attendance if they wanted him to leave, so there would be no hint of unfairness to anyone since Frey was not there.

A few members told him to stay and speak, so Adams decided to stay and take part.

He said KSB President Steve DeVol called him at 4:15 p.m. to tell him it was “his lucky day” since Frey had decided not to attend because of the open-meetings law violation possibility.

KSB President Stephen DeVol said he spoke with Frey who informed him of the potential open-meeting law violations if he did attend. DeVol contacted City Attorney Mike Goimarac who told him Frey was correct.

He said Frey was given the option to attend, saying two council members would have been asked to leave while the mayoral candidates made their opening remarks later in the meeting.

Frey said he is upset Adams decided to attend, and that KSB allowed it. He said the recommendation of having another forum for the mayoral candidates he made was welcomed by DeVol Thursday afternoon.

He said DeVol called him minutes before the forum was to start to ask him how he felt about asking a few council members to leave for a few minutes so he and Adams could speak.

“I told him I had made other plans.” Frey said, adding he found out Adams took part in the forum from other council members.

“I feel both Steve and Rob lied to me. I am [upset] he showed up,” Frey said. “This is hypocrisy at its worst.”

He also wonders what part of the open-meetings law KSB does not understand, mentioning the group accused council members of open-meeting law violations about a year ago.

Frey said it’s not the city’s responsibility to post meetings where council members might attend. Vice Mayor Cliff Hamilton and Councilman Mark DiNunzio showed up prior to the forum and left immediately after seeing three council members in attendance.

Frey said he doesn’t understand why the mayor attended.

“That shows no respect to me as a council member and as a mayoral candidate,” he said. “I let them know why I was not attending. I got this from the city attorney. I didn’t make this up. It’s really unfair, too.”

Sedona’s Los Abrigados Resort & Spa may soon be under new management if an acquisition offer for ILX Resorts by Diamond Resorts Corp. is approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In an offer filed with the SEC on Jan. 6, Diamond Resorts would assume all of ILX’s debt in exchange for acquiring all of its property, including three Sedona area resorts employing around 300 people.

ILX filed for Chapter 11 under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in March 2009, and its representatives appeared in the District of Arizona’s U.S. Bankruptcy Court in November.

On Jan. 13, Nancy J. Stone, president of ILX, filed a Current Report with the SEC stating ILX would file a joint plan of reorganization with its largest creditor, Textron Financial Corp., and if approved, would sell the majority of its assets to Diamond Resorts. The details of the proposed transaction would be filed in the near future, Stone wrote.

Margaret M. Eardley, executive vice president and chief financial officer, declined to comment on the acquisition offer because it had not yet been approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Under the proposal deal, Diamond Resorts would put down a $100,000 deposit and promise to pay off ILX’s debts of $34.5 million, primarily $29 million in loans to Textron.

In exchange, Diamond Resorts would assume control of all of ILX’s assets, including its 10 resorts; all its sales and marketing centers; real estate holdings including five acres in Bullhead City and 2.1 acres in Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, Mexico; physical property including equipment, company automobiles and furniture; resort management contracts; and mortgage loans.

Diamond Resorts would also gain ownership of the Heart of Sedona — a 14.174-acre parcel officially titled U.S. Forest Service Parcel A — that USFS put up for public auction in March 2005 when the Sedona Ranger Station moved to a new site in the Village of Oak Creek.

ILX Resorts and the city of Sedona both bid on the property from March to June 2005, but were outbid in the final days by Chandler real estate investor James Anthony Bruno.

In August 2005, he and ILX formed ILX-Bruno LLC, which was included in the list of assets Diamond Resorts would acquire in the bankruptcy deal.

However, according to the agreement, Diamond Resorts reserves the right not to purchase the land.

Diamond Resorts’ proposal is the “stalking horse offer” — a bid on a company’s assets from an interested buyer chosen by the bankrupt company.

The SEC’s decision is expected in the next month.

ILX Resorts CEO Joe Martori and Diamond Resorts Chairman and CEO Stephen Cloobeck did not return calls by press time.

Based in North Las Vegas, Nev., Diamond Resorts is one of the largest timeshare and vacation resort companies in the United States. It owns or manages more than 150 resorts in Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Europe and North America, including the Ridge on Sedona Golf Resort in the Village of Oak Creek and Sedona Summit in Sedona. Sedona Springs, the Villas of Sedona and the Villas at Poco Diablo, all in Sedona, are club-affiliated resorts.

One of the largest private employers in the area, ILX Resorts currently owns Los Abrigados and The Inn at Los Abrigados, both in Sedona, and Premiere Vacation Club at Bell Rock in the Village of Oak Creek. It also owns resorts in Tucson, Payson, Pinetop, Las Vegas, Colorado, Indiana, and San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico.

For an update on this story, please see: Bankruptcy judge approves sale of Los Abrigados’ parent corporation

And then there were five.

Gina Miller decided not to seek a Sedona City Council seat, and she withdrew her name from consideration Wednesday, Jan. 6, the city of Sedona reported last week.

Miller was seeking a four-year term and had been vying for one of three seats with Barbara Litrell, Mike Ward, Dan McIlroy, Councilwoman Nancy Scagnelli and Jeffrey Siet.

Sedona-Election-LogoMayor Rob Adams and Councilman Jerry Frey are running against each other for mayor, and Councilman Dan Surber and Dennis Rayner are opposing each other for a two-year council term.

Attempts to reach Miller to find out why she withdrew were unsuccessful by press time.

While it will not affect the 2010 mayor race, voters will also decide this year whether they want to continue voting for mayor directly or go back to past practices where council appointed a mayor from its seated members.

Council candidates and their supporters begin putting up campaign signs Saturday, Jan. 9. Election laws state they can go up 60 days from the primary election.

Acting City Clerk Mary Gladieux said residents who will be out of town around Tuesday, March 9, can vote early starting  Thursday, Feb. 11.

Lynn Constabile, elections director for Yavapai County, said since the election is mostly a mail-in, early ballots can be picked up at the election office in Cottonwood or the city of Sedona on Feb. 11. She said early ballots are generally for residents traveling the month prior to the election.

Constabile said every registered voter in the city will receive a mail-in ballot from Yavapai County — including Sedona voters registered in Coconino County — after Monday, Feb. 15, and they can mail them in at any time.

She said this also helps early voters, which is much different from past elections where voters went to polling locations to cast ballots.

The city contracts with Yavapai County to handle the election, including making sure registered voters receive their ballots, Constabile said.

The county will begin tabulating results seven days prior to election day. Those will be posted on its Web site by 7:30 p.m. on March 9.

She said there will be ballots not counted March 9, mentioning voters could drop ballots in the box with minutes to spare.

Those votes will be counted Wednesday, March 10, and the unofficial results available by

5 p.m.

Constabile said while every election is different, she thinks about 75 percent vote a week beforehand, and the other 25 wait until March 9.

Results only become official when council canvasses the votes, which usually occurs at its next meeting.

 

The Sedona Fire District has started preparations for next year’s budget, but is still unsure how much money it will have.

The district is funded by taxes from property assessments, and Business Director Karen Daines said she expects this to be down by 15 percent.

Sedona_FireSFD Governing Board Chairman Ralph Graves said the board is in a waiting game to see where the numbers are and how much, if any, the district will be down from last year. The final numbers will be available in February.

Graves said if the funds are down and things must be cut, he thinks the board would first look at decreasing capital project expenditures.

“We expect it to go down, but we don’t know by how much,” he said, adding the district could be surprised next month.

The 2009 budget was $15.93 million, and the current budget is $15.17 million.

In an e-mail, Daines said the budget process hinges on many participants, including residents, the governing board, Fire Chief Nazih Hazime, the executive team, management staff, labor associations, partner agencies and local governmental agencies.

The process began with a Dec. 9 joint Governing Board/executive management workshop to identify critical priorities for the fiscal year which gave the board opportunities to provide policy directives and goals for the budget.

Daines said the workshop was designed to tell the board the issue and get direction. The direction is to maintain the same services to the public and cut elsewhere.

She said the primary challenge to creating next year’s budget will be doing so with fewer funds.

“The biggest challenge we are facing in the fiscal year 2011 budget preparation process is an anticipated 15 percent decline to overall district assessed valuation due to real estate market values from the last several years,” she said. “As a result, we will be expected to do more with less, as we plan to keep the mil levy at $1.55 and not increase it to make up for valuation reductions.”

She said the district has been proactive in its long-range financial planning by establishing operating reserves, revisiting operational protocols and business practices to maximize efficiency of resources and to maximize non-tax sources of revenues. She added this tactic should ensure no service cuts will be necessary.

She said a 15 percent cut will likely will result in very, very limited capital expenditures.

She said those could include items like new vehicles and stations.

The finance department will prepare instructions and guidelines for managers to use in the preparation of budget requests before Hazime, Daines and the executive staff meets in late February with each department to review and if necessary modify each proposed line item.

A draft budget document will be produced and distributed Wednesday, Feb. 24, to the board and public. These documents are also published on the district’s Web site. Budget workshops will be held Wednesday, March 10, and Wednesday, March 24, to solicit input and to answer questions.

Once final changes are integrated into the tentative budget, the proposed budget is transmitted to the general public in the form of a public notice in the Sedona Red Rock News and posted in three public locations at least 30 days prior to the public meeting where the formal adoption of the budget will take place.

After completing the public hearings and required publishing, the board

will adopt a final budget in June.


Michael Maresh can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 125, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

As the state grapples whether to increase the state sales tax for all of Arizona to help solve its budget woes, towns and cities are waiting to see what the impacts would be.

What is being discussed in the Arizona State Legislature is increasing the state sales tax from 5.5 percent to 6.6 percent, and the local sales tax and state tax would be added on as they are now.

cityofsedonalogoSedona Assistant City Manager Alison Zelms said increasing the sales tax could result in making the revenue streams for the state more stable.

She said a lot depends on what it would mean to the state to increase its sales tax by 1.1 percent.

“Would that go to the state?” Zelms asked, in wondering if Sedona would see any amount of the increase.

However, the state cannot raise the state sales tax. Only voters can change the tax rate. The state could put the issue on the November ballot, though.

“If approved, it gives us more confidence in state sales tax but will [give us] no significant increase,” she said, adding the city’s sales tax rate would stay the same at 3 percent.

Tom Belshe, deputy director of the Arizona League of Cities and Towns, said if the increase is approved by voters, consumers might decide to shop less.

However, he said voters need to decide if they want valuable service like police and education to be cut further or if they want to pay another 1 percent in state sales tax.

He said if it comes to a referendum and voters oppose increasing the tax rate, the state would almost have to reduce the budgets of state agencies to go on top of the cuts already made.

“People want more services, not less,” he said. “It’s one or the other.”

He also said the extra 1.1 percent would go directly back to the state and the communities collecting it would see none of it.

He said since the additional sales tax would affect the entire state, it would not be a deterrent for people to travel to other areas in the state. He said the 1.1 percent would affect Sedona, Phoenix and every other city and town.

“It’s a state tax that you can’t escape,” Belshe said. “People [would] definitely spend

less because of the additional tax.”

He said businesses thinking about moving to Arizona may not do so if they see these type of services are being cut.

 

Michael Maresh can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 125, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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