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Sedona Fire Chief Responds to Dave Norton, VEA Manager Email

Residents,

Please see below.  These are my responses to Mr. Norton’s circulating email.  I also encourage everyone to attend the meeting.

Mr. Norton,

·         Education taxes are higher than our Sedona Fire District taxes – the school district is higher on its own, plus Yavapai Community College is within a few dollars of SFD.  Overall, education is certainly much higher.

·         Take home vehicles have been reduced and only one vehicle is taken home per that employee’s contract and the need based on his job responsibility.

·         When the new business director came into the organization she made the changes of revenue and guidelines for the users.

·         Per capita is based on the population divided by the overall budget.  “Per capita” is not an accurate comparative figure to be used; many districts in the state have much higher “per capita” figures than SFD, and in Yavapai County, there are at least three with higher per capita and in Coconino, there are at least six fire districts with higher per capita.  The Sedona Fire District is very unique based on the geographical area that we cover, which makes it a difficult task to cover our 168 square miles with only 4 fire stations.  Our many tourists are not included in the per capita figure, and each year, many find it a safe place to visit based on their experience when they call 9-1-1. This will encourage return visits.

·         My philosophy is doing more with less without jeopardizing our services.

·         Our personnel, fire stations, equipment and apparatus are based on the needs to mitigate our challenging emergencies.

You keep referencing the past based on different leadership.  To bring you up to speed, the Executive Team and I have made many budgetary changes as I have indicated several times, and will continue to do so.  Overall, the budget has reduced from a high of $15.9 million to the now proposed, $13.2 million.

I am proud to be a taxpayer in this district to receive the outstanding level of service provided at a reasonable cost.

Regards,

Nazih M. Hazime

—– Original Message —–

From: SPECTRUM/Dave Norton

To: SPECTRUM/Dave Norton

Sent: Sunday, March 20, 2011 11:22 PM

Subject: Fire Board Meetings

Nearly everybody complains about their property tax bill.  But, have you taken a close look at your tax bill to understand what the major expenses are for?  For most property tax bills, your Fire District tax is the largest item on the bill.  I have attended many Fire Board meetings, reviewed documents and have a keen insight into what they have been doing and have come to the conclusion that many more citizens need to get involved so that you have a Fire District that is efficient in operations at a reasonable cost.

For many years, the Fire Board was made up of members who were very close to the Fire District so the mil rate was kept up to generate a windfall supply of cash each year.  When property values increased, the mil rate was not reduced and the windfall grew accordingly.  The philosophy of the Fire District for many years was to spend all of the incoming funds each year – because there was always more coming in next year.  It grew and grew and grew.

The recently elected Fire Board now has a much different philosophy and is taking a very close look at District operations for efficiency and overhead.  Did you know that for many years, YOU have been paying to subsidize the dispatch needs of other areas of Arizona?  Only recently did the Fire District do an analysis to determine the true cost and then increase the rates being charged to the smaller outlying organizations.  YOU are also paying for some District employees to drive District vehicles to Prescott and Flagstaff daily for their daily commute to and from work.  The Sedona Fire District has the highest per capita cost of any fire district in Arizona and is among the top in the nation.  It isn’t due to the number of fires they put out or the number of traffic accidents they respond to or the number of hikers they rescue . . .

The Sedona Fire Board meets each month at Station #1 in Sedona on Southwest Drive.  Twice per year (March and September), they meet in the Village.  The March meetings are coming up on Wednesday, March 23rd at Fire Station #3 in the Village.  The Agendas are attached.  By reviewing the attached Agendas, you can see the type of issues the Board is looking at.  Of course, you’re going to hear and read about how any cuts will “endanger” the residents of the District and reduce service levels, etc.  Great stories, but when you look at the cost per taxpayer in the District compared to the number of actual incidents the District responds to, there is an excess of equipment and personnel. 

At 3:00 PM, there will be a Budget Work Session and at 6:00 PM the monthly Business Meeting.

The Budget Work Session should be particularly instructive.  All SFD department heads are scheduled to explain — line item by line item — their respective budgets for FY 2011-2012.  In this Work Session format, members of the public are invited to participate and ask questions, make comments or offer suggestions.

Please consider attending either or both meetings.  Remember, the Fire District is a major chunk of your annual tax bill and important items are being discussed at these local meetings that could have an impact on the taxes for the future.  This is YOUR chance to be heard on these issues.

Please consider attending either or both meetings.  Remember, the Fire District is a major chunk of your annual tax bill and important items are being discussed at these local meetings that could have an impact on your taxes for the future.  This is YOUR chance to be heard on these issues.

You can view the meeting schedule as well as Minutes of past meetings on the Fire District website, www.sedonafire.org

Dave Norton, CMCA ®

Village Estates Association Manager

 

Nazih M. Hazime

Fire Chief

Sedona Fire District

928.204.8924

NHazime@sedonafire.org

12 Comments

  1. Bobbie Surber says:

    Public School funding is set by the state of Arizona not by the local school boards. Any additional funds as in a Bond or Override must be VOTER APPROVED by the residents residing within the school boundaries. Hope this is of help.

  2. Zeke says:

    Dave Norton wrote: For many years, the Fire Board was made up of members who were very close to the Fire District so the mil rate was kept up to generate a windfall supply of cash each year.

    A comment to Dave Norton: This sentence was hitting below the belt since the new fire board and fire chief Hazime are not and were not part of that “spend it” group. Why all the ganging up? And why write as a homeowners manager and not as Citizen Norton?

    My HOA did not send out an opinion letter on the fire department and its board and budget, and that is what I expect from it. Our HOA dues are meant to improve lifestyles and not advocate for cutting local services. We bought homes in Sedona and not other towns knowing our rates are higher and service levels affluent.

    Let the fire chief and board trim budgets like everyone else is and is rightly expected to do, but Norton et al, this fire tax is not a major issue.

    Now I might like Norton if we met, but he should know that I, and almost everyone I know that resides in Sedona, well we just don’t give a fig about how much we pay for fire taxes, because AZ taxes are substantially less than in the states we hailed from prior or continue to call home during part of each year.

    Appreciate it if everyone would go about the business of commenting on the fire department budget and its oversight with more civility. Frankly I’m tired of hearing about a few dollars in fire tax savings like it has great importance.

    Need to spend some energy on a good cause? Get Congress to do something about derivatives. The cost of one tank of gasoline is by far a greater economic disaster on local citizens wallets than the entire annual local fire tax burden. One issue requires intelligence and the other issue requires emotion. Which issue should be your priority and is not?

    And yes, a thanks to Surber for the educational tax point.. Bob

  3. […] Chief Nazih Hazime to Dave Norton (author of a widely circulated email): You keep referencing the past based on different leadership.  To bring you up to speed, the […]

  4. Concerned Citizen says:

    As one of the 15-member citizen’s committee (of which Dave Norton was an active participant) that prepared the requirements to pick a the new SFD Fire Chief, I take great exception seeing his comments about the SFD and its Chief. After his involvement in our committee, he went as far as applying for the Chief’s position…in fact, he was one of the 50 applicants who originally applied for the position AFTER he was instrumental in setting the minimum requirements for the position to be recruited. In my opinion, that was a clear violation of conflict of interest rules on his part and any comments he makes should be viewed with great caution.

    Is he still trying to get that position after the present Chief is forced out?

  5. Citizen Committee Member says:

    Dave Norton? See his present involvement with Big Park and the mega hotels. Read the article above and all its comments. Do something residents of VOC, VOCA and other associations.

  6. steve Segner says:

    If you are going to use number for comparison use area of service not population, The Sedona fire dept cover over 250 sq. Miles . We live in rural area with a lot of open space. In phoenix of example you could cover the same population with just one fire house. Lets not compare apples to oranges. We need the best fire dept we can afford, most of there work is medical and minutes count our larger area of service will of course cost more then in a city like Phoenix. by 3 today we will have a new fire chief, and our old chief was not forced out…..

  7. Watch it burn says:

    In my opinion If you look up the old video of the biggest fire in Oak Creek Canyon, you can see Sedona Fire District sitting in their trucks in the canyon just out of city limits watching the fire spread. They were waiting for word to see whose jurisdiction the fire was in.

    The old Sedona Fire Chief quit (deleted by editor) Sedona. (Deleted by Editor) he had been on the City of Sedona Budget committee. He was called out on the overspending and presented (with) proof of same. Our present city council has no shame.

  8. Area Residents says:

    We live within the Sedona/Oak Creek Fire & School Districts – unrelated to incorporated Sedona. We are sick of the person ID’d as Steve Segner (under a variety of spellings) apparently a self-appointed know-it-all on absolutely e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g! It’s also our understanding by checking Google offerings Mr. Segner (segner whatever) also maintains his primary residence in Oak Creek Canyon – out of city limits but also within the mentioned school/fire districts.

    It remains our opinions that a very justified reason for the number of fire houses necessary here is to primarily accommodate the large number of calls relating to tourists.

    So once again, it is the residents here in the designated fire district who are paying through the nose (and elsewhere) to accommodate the over-publicizing of Sedona via the idiotic regional chamber of commerce.

    Why not assess their members for the majority of the cost related expenses because of THEM and the person steve Segner who appears to be their designated mouthpiece for their overindulged quest for more tourists.

    Indeed it’s time for major changes. It’s true – Sedona City Council has no shame.

  9. Steve Segner says:

    Area Residents says: ” We” are sick of the person ID’d as Steve Segner (under a variety of spellings) apparently a self-appointed know-it-all on absolutely e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g! It’s also our understanding by checking Google offerings Mr. Segner (segner whatever) also maintains his primary residence in Oak Creek Canyon.

    I for got the Sedona Eye is just for “bashing” not positive or factual information.
    Anyway,
    Fact I am a Sedona resident, per the state of Arizona, checking Google is not how it works , Google will also show address for us in Scottsdale and west Sedona and up town, if you do not like the law take it up with the state.

    Area Residents says: It remains our opinions that a very justified reason for the number of fire houses necessary here is to primarily accommodate the large number of calls relating to tourists. ( get over the Tourist thing, they were in Sedona first.)

    The study by the fire dist said the tourist and commercial business were paying more then there fair share of the fire dist tax. You can get a copy for the fire dist.

    250 sq. Miles to cover and you want less service? The majority of calls are for locals in need of medical aid and fast.
    Sedona fire must respond to calls from 179 and state hwy17 all the way up oak Creek Canyon, and we need a new station up the Canyon.
    People in Sedona want first class service and we can afford it .

  10. F.Y.I. says:

    Wrong again, steve. It’s the Sedona Fire District. The Sedona Fire Department you mention fails to exist.

  11. John Daniels W Sedona says:

    Are you kidding me!!!! This thread started on March 21, 2011 and has just now resurfaced again????

    Why does SE also such nonsense to re-appear to waste their space.

    I have the best of ideas, If you don’t like Segners postings, STOP READING THEM!! Segner has just as much of a right to post as does many others like DJV and her sidekick DV.

  12. Nathan, Sedona says:

    @John Daniels W Sedona: and why does it disturb you that words written back on March 21, 2011, remain relevant in June of 2019? Hey, man, if the shoe fits …….
    what’s the beef?

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