Prop 446 the Wrong Choice for Sedona
Sedona voted overwhelmingly to extend Home Rule in August, showing we want balanced budgets that target our priorities, approved by our elected City Council. It’s a democratic, straightforward process.
Home Rule frees Sedona from draconian “permanent base” spending limits for the next four years. Our City Council will continue to manage our spending based on our needs and our input.
Proposition 446, known as the Permanent Base Adjustment or PBA, proposes a very low permanent base, unnecessarily complicating the budget process and setting up Sedona for automatic cuts if Home Rule fails in 2022.
If you voted YES on Home Rule, you should vote NO on Prop 446. Here’s why:
Prop 446 was not professionally prepared or publicly reviewed. In other Arizona cities with a PBA on the ballot, the base adjustment is carefully calculated by financial professionals so communities always have access to funds needed to meet resident priorities. Only after detailed study, public hearings, and Council approval do other cities place PBAs on the ballot. There was no such public process or Council vote in the creation of Prop 446.
Proponents claim Prop 446 will establish a 2022 budget limit of $39 million. That is $8.4 million less than this year’s balanced-budget expenditures of $47.4 million. Their figure includes so called “exclusions,” so not all of the $39 million will be available for Sedona’s FY2022 discretionary spending needs.
This means if Home Rule fails in 2022, Prop 446 will automatically slash at least $8.4 million from the budget, precipitating an unnecessary financial crisis.
If Prop 446 passes, Sedona would be the only city in Arizona with a PBA so low budget and service cuts are guaranteed to occur should Home Rule fail in the future, regardless of community needs. No city establishes a PBA lower than current or anticipated needs. A few examples:
Expenditure Limit (PBA)
If we approve Prop 446, we set ourselves up for potentially devastating budget cuts four years in advance. If that happens, important traffic and transit projects such as Sedona in Motion would be frozen in mid stream, after we have worked so hard to develop and fund them. Such drastic forced reductions would dampen economic development, slow or stop important flood control projects, and prevent us from acting on other opportunities that might arise.
There are other reasons why Prop 446 is wrong for Sedona.
> Under Prop 446, we will be unable to use money made available by paying off bond debt. An analogy would be paying off your car, but not being allowed to use the freed up cash for other family needs.
By 2022, Sedona will be close to retiring $6 million in debt. Under Home Rule, we can use that that money for community priorities. But with Prop 446 in place, it is off the table.
> The Sedona City Council is likely to discuss a professionally-developed PBA this year, carefully considering our future needs and getting input from all Sedonans before sending it to voters. City Manager Justin Clifton says a well-designed PBA can account for community needs for many years, eliminating the requirement for quadrennial Home Rule elections.
Approving a poorly-planned PBA that lacks professional rigor and community engagement is the wrong choice for Sedona. We gave Council a vote of confidence by approving Home Rule in August. Let’s give our elected officials — and ourselves — an opportunity to consider publicly and transparently whether a carefully-designed Permanent Base Adjustment is right for Sedona.
We recommend voting NO on Prop 446.