Sedona AZ (October 6, 2010) – GO TO THE SOURCE IF YOU WANT THE FACTS ABOUT THE SEDONA FIRE DISTRICT! writes SedonaEye.com reader Karen Schmitt in all capitals to the Sedona Times news, adding, “This is in response to Mr. Dave Zirinsky’s charges against the Sedona Fire District that appeared in the Opinion column of the September 29 edition of Red Rock News.”
The following is Ms. Schmitt’s letter:
Mr. Zirinsky begins by charging that in 2009-10 the SFD had a per capita cost of $760, which he states is “almost triple that of neighboring departments.” He says he took the budget figure and simply divided it by an estimated 20,000 residents.
A per capita comparison that depicts per resident costs would only be a fair measurement if there were no commercial businesses who pay a much higher tax rate than residences, and if Sedona were not the number one destination for tourism in the country (per USA Today), patronized by millions of visitors annually. Ignoring the existence of commercial property in a per capita analysis makes little sense, since not only do commercial properties commonly have greater value than residences, but they are assessed at double the rate. This means commercial occupancies pay a disproportionately higher portion of the total district tax burden. This significantly offsets the amount paid by residents of the community.
If you take SFD’s total 20,000 residents, a naïve person might conclude that each resident pays $760 per capita; however that would only be true if there were NO taxpaying commercial businesses, no utilities which pay taxes, and no home owner associations which also pay taxes.
Further, if one wanted to manipulate the per capita rate in the opposite direction, we should count the 4,000,000 tourists who also pay taxes (sales) here, in an analysis of per person costs. Then everyone using SFD services actually pays only $1.08 per capita! This is about as logical an analysis as Mr. Zirinsky’s argument.
There isn’t room here for me to list the per capita costs of other AZ Fire Districts. Suffice it to say they range from a couple of hundred dollars to $18,000. . . which should tell you this figure means little to nothing at all. Especially when examined in a vacuum.
Facts are facts. Too often lately the facts have been distorted and/or misrepresented for political purposes. If you have questions, contact someone who really knows them: Fire Chief Hazime or SFD’s Business Director, Karen Daines.Karen Schmitt Sedona AZ