Note: Aurand, Ph.D., is a retired university administrator/professor,
and has lived in the Village of Oak Creek for the past 12 years.
He has participated in the Sedona Forum, and is a member of the
Arizona Town Hall. He is a past president of the Northern Arizona
University Retirees Association, the Flagstaff Kiwanis Club, the
Arizona Alliance for Arts Education, Citizens for an Alternate
Route. Currently he is the President of the Northern Arizona Chapter
of the Natl. Soc. of the Sons of the American Revolution
(NSSAR), and is presently a member of the Sedona Medical Center
has been a dozen years since the issue of annexation or incorporation
has been seriously discussed in the Village of Oak Creek, also
called the Big Park.
one takes an historical look at this issue, the VOC was requested
on two occasions to participate in the incorporation of the City
of Sedona when that issue was initially under consideration. At
that time, the VOC elected not to be a part of Sedona.
the last 12 years, a considerable amount of change has taken place
in the VOC. The area has probably doubled or tripled in population,
the business community has expanded, and the influx of new residents
has brought new demands on the infrastructure.
the VOC is now an urban area. The government of the VOC is still
the same; the VOC is governed by the Yavapai County Supervisors
with the dominant leadership role provided by the District #3
Supervisor in Cottonwood.
I discussed the present governance system in the VOC with former
District #1 Supervisor Bill Feldmeier, Mr. Feldmeier stated flatly
the County government was not designed for and is not adequate
for urban areas. He further stated that when he was Supervisor
and was asked by constituents in communities comparable to the
VOC whether to incorporate or annex, he consistently encourage
the areas to pursue either of these options.
are multiple reasons for the VOC to annex to the City of Sedona.
The present needs of the VOC area include (1) police protection,
(2) sewer expansion, (3) local government, (4) the return of a
greater portion of the millions in area tax dollars that are going
to Yavapai County, (5) area planning relating to roads, and local
control over buildings, parks, and other services. (6) The ability
to secure State and Federal grants. Let us examine these issues:
The VOC has no local police. It relies solely on the Yavapai County
Sheriffs Office for professional police protection. Granted
the VOC has a Volunteers in Protection (VIP) program in operation,
however, these individuals are not licensed police officers and
can, at best, serve only as backups during a police
Yavapai County Sheriffs officer staffing, I have been told
by the Sheriffs Office, has three vehicles on patrol during
the night hours and four vehicles on patrol during the daytime.
Three or four vehicles on patrol from Rock Springs (North of Phoenix
on I-17) to Peach Springs, 100 miles west of Flagstaff, and from
Wickenberg to near Strawberry in the White Mountains!
there is a local Sheriffs Office in the VOC, it simply serves
as a base of operations for the VIPs and a point where the occasional
Sheriff that is patrolling can stop. Contrast the VOCs protection
with the City of Sedona, which has a staff of four patrolling
officers on duty 24 hours a day to meet their policing needs.
Clearly, police protection should be a major concern for any resident
in the VOC.
Sewer Expansion. The need for a comprehensive sewer system in
the VOC is a need that could become eminent at any time. The present
sewer serves only about 20% of the residents of the VOC.
has to question how many more months 5,000 citizens in a fairly
compact area can put raw sewage into the ground without seriously
affecting the quality of the ground water. The sewer issue was
the primary cause that motivated Sedona residents to incorporate.
A similar scenario could mandate the Village do the same.
Big Park Sewer Board estimates that each resident will be required
to pay approximately $13,000 to $15,000 to buy into
the proposed sewer system and the system will be completed only
when 51% of the property owners agree to become a part of the
plan. Many doubt that the local residents will agree to this system
of financing the sewer expansion. Are there alternate options?
Some feel that bonding the expansion cost coupled with a more
modest property owner fee would be a better way to develop the
system we need.
Government. Presently the VOC area has little in the way of elected
governmental officials. Indeed, the District #3 Supervisor, with
offices in Cottonwood, is the only elected official that the community
an attempt to provide for local input from the residents into
the governance of this unincorporated urban area, former District
#1 Supervisor, Carlton Camp, proposed the establishment of a Big
Park Council comprised of representatives from the various housing
associations in the area. There are now 18 representatives on
the Council, including 17 housing associations, plus a business
Village of Oak Creek Association (VOCA) currently has an estimated
population of approximately 4,000; another association, Highland
Estates, has a population of 30 to 40 residents. All of the associations
have one vote. Most importantly, the Council has no autonomous
authority - it simply makes recommendations to the Supervisor.
Many feel that local government is best.
Tax Dollars to Yavapai County. The VOC contributes millions in
tax dollars to Yavapai County. One must ask, Is the Village
receiving quality services for the tax dollars it pays?
VOC, we estimate, contributes $262,000 in Sales Tax receipts to
the County, $444,000 in Arizona State Income Taxes, $474,000 in
Arizona State Highway User Fees, and $242,000 in Vehicle License
Fees. Many feel that since approximately $1.42 million in state
tax dollars could/should be returned to the VOC area, the VOC
is not receiving its proportionate tax dollars.
Lack of Local Planning. Local control in planning road improvements,
connecting roads, a unified building code and equal enforcement
of that code, local building inspection, park development, and
recreational facilities for residents are all essential elements
in a well-functioning urban area. It is time for these services
in the VOC.
State & Federal Grants. It should be noted that incorporated
areas, or cities, can apply for grants.
It was recently announced
that the City of Sedona has received a $450,000 grant from Federal
Highway Funds for improving sidewalks in the Uptown area. The
City also has applied for a $400,000 grant from the State Parks
Department to develop Sunset Park, and it received $140,000 for
street beautification. None of these grants are available to the
VOC as an unincorporated area.
are the VOC arguments against annexation or incorporation? I can
see only two annexation negative arguments; (1) Local pride in
being an independent community, and (2) An increase in the sales
tax from 5.5% to 8.5%. Incorporation might immediately eliminate
the sales tax increase in the short term. However, it would probably
be required to implement the infrastructure the independent community
would require in the future.
taxes would remain the same since they are assessed by the County
Assessor; the fire district would remain the same; and school
taxes should remain constant. The Village, should it decide to
annex, would of course need the consent of the City of Sedona.
will grow, the VOC will grow. Now is the moment to plan for this