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Anger over district vote brings rumors of Verde County
Written by Trista Steers MacVittie   
Thursday, 08 September 2011 00:00

Murmurs of Verde County resurfaced following the unfair redistricting decision handed down Aug. 22.

Whenever residents of Sedona and the Verde Valley feel slighted by elected officials on the other side of Mingus Mountain, a call goes out to split the county.

While troubling economic times kept such talk to a minimum in recent years, the idea gained new steam after Yavapai County District 1 Supervisor Carol Springer and District 2 Supervisor Tom Thurman decided their opinions mean more than the people’s they represent. Springer and Thurman approved Alternative Map A to divide the county into five districts instead of three despite public support, particularly in the Verde Valley, for Map C.

Instead of following the will of the people Springer and Thurman got together and created their own map — one not seen by the public until just before the vote.

Naturally, Sedona and Verde Valley residents are irate and once again sick of being ignored by representatives from the other side of the mountain.

“Split the counties” echoes off the red rocks and down the Verde River bed. Some say enough is enough.

Splitting from Yavapai County, however, is much easier said than done. As I mentioned, this isn’t the first time outrage brought about the idea, and the complexities often squashed the effort.

Several questions pop into mind before even considering the technical side of formation, including would all or only the Yavapai County portion of Sedona be included.

Once those questions are answered, the paperwork begins.

Counties can be divided by legislative enactment, statewide initiative or county initiative.

A petition sent to the Arizona Secretary of State by the person, organization or agency seeking division initiates consideration of county division.

The petition must include the name of any counties affected, description of proposed boundaries, approximate assessed valuation in proposed county, population, land area and signatures from qualified voters.

If the plan only includes the Yavapai County portion of Sedona, only Yavapai County would be listed. If the entire city were included in the plan, Coconino County would join the list.

The state imposes several criteria for an area to be eligible to form a new county. It must consist of at least 3/4 of 1 percent of the state’s total assessed valuation and at least the statewide per capita assessed valuation. The population must be at least 3/4 of 1 percent of the state’s total population according to the 2010 Census. The proposed county must include at least 100 square miles of privately owned land. The area must also share common boundaries with at least three other existing or proposed counties or at least two other existing or proposed counties and the state border.

Following submission of a petition, a special election is held. If the majority of voters in the proposed county vote for splitting, the action moves forward.

While we’ve heard many people mutter about dividing the county, nobody has taken action. It’s a long process, and whether most Verde Valley residents want to govern themselves is unknown. I guess the best way to find out would be for someone to take this bull by the horns and circulate a petition.

Trista Steers MacVittie

Managing Editor


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