When I went to the Listening Workshop at the City Hall this evening, it was to get additional information about the proposal to turn Highway 89A in West Sedona over to The City of Sedona for development and management. I had not made up my mind when I arrived at the meeting but I was resolved by the time I left.
First, let me say that, in theory, I actually like the idea of The City taking over this highway because The City proposes to make it more safe, beautiful and futuristic in the way it proposes to deal with lighting, pedestrian crossing and medians. The present owner of this highway (ADOT) is concerned exclusively with installing continuous 35 ft highway lights along the West Sedona corridor. The presently allocated $15,435,500 will be retained by the ADOT or turned over to The City of Sedona. My conclusion is that the promissory funds and responsibility of providing lighting and highway maintenance should remain with ADOT at this time.
Why do I object to The City of Sedona taking over the ownership of 89A? Because of the risks in this turbulent economic and political climate. For example, today President Obama suggested dropping funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program in order to save 3 billion dollars. Another indicator is that many of the T-Party newbies in congress are bolting against the GOP’s unwillingness to support even more drastic program and budget cuts than they are presently demanding. Arizona is a heavily T-Party influenced state cutting Medicaid, college funds, forestry services, privatizing prisons, etc. I don’t think for a minute that either the GOP or T-Party (including our own Congressman Gosar) conservatives will honor an agreement to use promissory federal and state funds to beautify and modernize a highway in Sedona. There are those who argue that the signed agreement plus $1,375,000 of the total cost for Sedona to take over Highway 89A in West Sedona would be binding . To this argument I point out that there have already been precedents to the contrary. Approximately two years ago, The State of Arizona appropriated acupuncture license fees that are paid annually by all Arizona acupuncturists. These cumulative fees are held in a special account by the Arizona Medical Board. They are used as needed to enhance and promote the profession of Oriental Medicine. These funds were used without permission to help meet some kind of State shortfall or emergency. How do we know this would not happen with the funds that are being held for The City of Sedona?
Where would that leave The City Council and the tax payers?