time to talk about
fairness in local taxation
A Commentary by
1988, when the City of Sedona was incorporated, we got some
services from the counties. A little police protection, a little
street maintenance, etc. And we got some services we didnt
like, e.g. poor planning and zoning. Not very good, to be sure,
which is why we voted to become incorporated. But at least we
were getting something in return for our county property taxes.
But since incorporation, the City sales
tax pays for our own street maintenance, our own police protection,
our own administration costs, and many other services. The counties,
especially Yavapai, have saved many millions of dollars in service
costs that they no longer provide in Sedona.
Yet the counties continue to collect the
same property tax rates from Sedona that they collect in those
areas where they do provide services. If the county officials
wanted to be "fair," they would have helped the City
with costs of rebuilding the streets that they left to us in
such poor condition. But they didnt. To make it worse,
they now bill the city government (us) for health care, emergency
management, and jail occupancy. And to make it even worse, they
added county sales taxes, which they collect inside the city
limits as well as elsewhere.
talk about "fair." Every resident and voter in the
City of Sedona is also a resident and voter in Yavapai or Coconino
County. Due to our growing property assessments, people inside
the Sedona city limits pay more in property taxes than others
in the counties. For many years, the people of Sedona have been
a cash cow for the counties. If the counties want to be fair,
they could help pay our police, street maintenance, etc. They
could provide the same health and disaster services that they
provide at no cost to unincorporated areas. But they dont.
Heres the deal. To be fair, the counties
should collect their sales tax only in the unincorporated areas
where they actually provide these services. This would help
to level the playing field for Sedona businesses and customers.
For example, one auto dealer now is looking to relocate outside
the city limits, where he can offer his customers a savings
in sales tax. A dealer formerly in Cottonwood has moved outside,
where he loudly advertises "no city tax." The city
people lose, the counties gain.
Incorporation has brought great benefits
to Sedona. Our streets have been improved, and traffic circulation
is more efficient despite increased population and tourism.
The city looks better, we have better control of development
and building, and we dont have the large ugly signs that
you see elsewhere. We have excellent police service, and its
safer. In general its a better place to live and to visit.
But we pay sales taxes twice and only receive once it
This is an issue of fairness in taxation,
and getting what we pay for. Its time for residents of
Sedona and other incorporated Verde Valley communities to speak
out to county and state officials, and get (a) all county sales
tax excluded from incorporated areas, or (b) get a fair share
of revenue returned to fund the same level of services they
provide to unincorporated areas. The counties can still collect
their property taxes, which the Sedona City government doesnt.
Its time to end double taxation.
This issue becomes even more important now
that the Arizona state sales tax is taking another jump. Visiting
shoppers pale when theyre told our sales tax will exceed
nine percent. It makes one wonder why government must continually
take a bigger percentage of our money even in good economic
times when theyre getting more revenue because they get
a piece every time a dollar changes hands. How many percents
are there in a dollar?