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Sedona Fire District Media Campaign Should Be No Go

Sedona AZ (February 10, 2017) – The following is a letter to the SedonaEye.com editor:

Sedona Eye editor and readers,

I want to give you a heads-up that it’s a long one…

Sedona Fire Station #4 on Forest Road

Have you been following the media campaign that the Sedona Fire District has been orchestrating through its articles in the Sedona Red Rock News? Three in a row (1/25, 1/27, and 2/1). In the beginning of the first article, they want to replace – tear down and build – Station 4 on Forest Rd. It is “not large enough for some of the modern-day fire engines.” I would highlight “some;” my response is ‘Don’t put in ones that don’t fit.’ Reading between the lines, I surmise they’ll then want to buy more fire engines that do fit.

SFD seemingly has skipped over the renovation option. A few paragraphs later, “It’s yet to be determined the cost of a new station or where the funding would come from. However the board also discussed potentially issuing a bond…to cover the cost of renovations to other stations while replacing Station 4 as well as Station 5 in Oak Creek Canyon.” Wow, the SFD request goes from possibly replacing one station to renovating others and replacing not one but two stations. Moreover, SFD is looking at (to buy) other properties in Uptown to relocate Station 4. But if the station is rebuilt on the same site, they still have to build a temporary relocation station for a 10 to 12 month residency. So I’m thinking why not renovate Station 4 and save a lot of money, not to mention time and trouble.

The third article’s headline read “SFD needs taxpayers’ help to see if a bond is necessary.” This seems misleading because by now it’s obvious SFD needs our money. The gist of the entire article is a series of justifications for issuing and passing a bond, accompanied by an explanation of the dire state of SFD’s finances and the potential threat that this poses to our public safety. (A little subtle fearmongering to get results.) More telling are some facts that show fiscal irresponsibility and/or incompetence by the SFD: “A tax cap has been established limiting our mil rate at $3.25 per $100 of assessed value (AV) which they have maxed out… Additionally Proposition 117 created a long-term impact by placing a cap of no more than 5% increase of taxable AV…” In other words, if the law didn’t prohibit it, SFD would be increasing the mil rate ad infinitum, as they seemed to have done in the past. Over the past 3 years my SFD taxes have gone up 25%, 12% and 25% respectively. As for the citizens committee we learn it will be “10 to 12 people, which will be comprised of up to (but doesn’t guarantee that there will be) seven citizens including at least two from the business community (probably from the construction industry and another vested interest) and 3 to 5 SFD personnel.” So it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the majority on the committee will be picked to vote for issuing a general obligation bond.

Sedona Village of Oak Creek firefighters at work – photo by Abel Ortega May 2012

So what shall we do? In their Letter to the Editor (SRRN 2/3/17) Bob and Karen Hatler hit the nail on the head. They acknowledged that improvements were needed. “However the taxpayers of Sedona should not be burdened with a bond to support the building of two new fire stations. SFD needs to tighten their belts and reprioritize its own significantly large budget ($15 million plus) and do what is necessary to take care of projects that have been ignored for too long.” Well, what could they have done differently? They could’ve have NOT bought two $600,000 fire engines with 10-story ladders, when no building in the district is more than 3 stories. They could’ve NOT bought a $3,200 drone and other high-tech toys. They could’ve NOT bought (quoting the Hatlers) “past years of experience for personnel to join PSPRS (state retirement system) and for administrative staff to become a part of the state plan. These buy-ins were especially unique because employees had a plan; changing did not require a bonus.” One might reach the conclusion that this was a waste of taxpayer money that lined some pockets. Whatever one wants to deduce about these SFD choices, it’s hard to believe that the SFD has been fiscally responsible.

Lastly here are some other facts to consider: Separate from the SFD tax on our bills, we also pay taxes into the Fire Assistance Fund – from which the SFD got approximately $240,000 last year. Moreover we haven’t had an general SFD Board election since 2010, though we did have a recall vote in 2012. There were no elections in 2014 or 2016 because vacancies had been filled by appointments and no one else ran for election. I don’t know whether this is by coincidence or by design. But the conspiracy theorist in me wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t the latter because… Ironically the SRRN article (6/22/16) that announced the purchase of the second $600,000 fire engine, ended with “Soto and Ernster were appointed late last year. Their positions are up for election this year. If the two run unopposed, it will save the district $60,000 in election costs.” So SFD is willing to withhold $60,000 on an election, but spend $600,000 on a duplicate/unnecessary fire engine.

So folks, it’s up to you. Are you willing to vote Yes on the GO bond? Or say No to no more taxes? If you say Yes, you are sanctioning more fiscal irresponsibility by the SFD. If you vote Yes and the GO bond passes, then you are inviting the City Council and the School District to issue their own GO bonds. Unfortunately this is just the beginning of the SFD GO bond debate. By publishing their request this early in the year, SFD are testing the waters to see how we residents feel about it. They want enough time to counter and tailor their spiel, so come November they will have convinced enough of you to vote for their GO bond. Don’t let them pull the wool over your eyes.

Henry Twombly
Sedona, AZ 86336

 

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28 Comments

  1. Eddie Maddock says:

    Thank you, Mr. Twombly, for your reminder about an important issue.

    The Sedona Fire District (not part of City of Sedona government) raises many questions relating to legitimate necessities. For example, how do they justify two ladder trucks or even one for that matter? It was pointed out after acquiring the first that it was needed for use in Oak Creek Canyon and then at a later time disclosed the vehicle was unable to turn around in the canyon.

    Understanding the increased need for the services provided due to tourism, the many points you offer certainly are expansive. This will be an interesting exercise, as are most in Sedona, to follow to conclusion – one way or another.

  2. Warren says:

    Right on, Henry. Thanks for writing this. As someone “banned for life” from ever having something printed in the SRRN (really! see http://sedonaeye.com/freedom-of-expression-essential-to-a-free-society/ ), I don’t read it anymore. So I appreciate you bringing this to my and others attention.

  3. As A Reminder says:

    Those that approved the $70 million bond for the School District were rewarded with a beautiful performing arts center but also a school board that came close to destroying the district. Loss of students – investigation by State AG’s office, under paid teachers, and general disaster. Be very careful what it is you approve when voting for these high priced GO bonds.

  4. Real Cost says:

    We already have higher property taxes in our region. Any additional increases will drive the cost of living even higher. Rents will be reflected by any increases that will drive property owners to make them vacation rentals. They need to look at waste first. They have more than most for an area of 20,000 serving.

    They should go to the businesses that are bringing all the tourists for the money Residents have paid enough.

  5. @Real Cost says:

    Please clarify; an increase in our Fire tax will increase rents which is completely agree with but it won’t increase the prices for goods and services if it was just imposed on businesses???

  6. Lonnie says:

    About the comment “They should go to the businesses that are bringing all the tourists for the money. Residents have paid enough.”

    What does that have to do with building new fire stations instead of improving the ones we have? Understanding, though, that tourism for sure increases the calls for service and emergencies to our area taxed financed fire district.

  7. NFPA says:

    NFPA/ISO standard is to have 1 Fire station for every 5-10 square miles or 1 fire station per 10,000 residents. Your response time should be under 5 or 6 minutes so that would mean that the call would be relatively close to a station.

  8. Wasteful says:

    There is enough waste. They should make what they have work. Taxpayers pay enough. Property taxes are outrageous in sedona.

  9. Easy-Peasy says:

    All the fire department needs to do is go to the “regional” chamber of commerce for funding. They claim fame for bringing in all the millions of tourists, so why aren’t they held accountable for their safety while in Sedona? Of course, it’s the taxpayers money they have to toss about to the Forest Service. So why not the fire department?

  10. @ Wasteful says:

    Wow, thanks for the comments my question to you is: While taxpayers pay a lot, where is there enough waste???? Even though it may hurt, sometimes we have to pay for good service. Substandard service is just not what I want.

  11. @@wasteful says:

    Then move to a big city like beverly hills. You could also hire a private fire department. We have great service and 3 time the stations needed along with a extremely over staffed FD. Move you deserve better.

  12. Walt says:

    How many stations do we have? 5????? For a town of 10,000. That’s way over the standard of 1 per 10,000 population.

  13. John Daniels says:

    @@wasteful

    I tend to agree with the writer who asked Wasteful to clarify their facts; how about being specific about waste, otherwise those kinds of comments are baseless and add nothing to a legitimate posting. Oh yeah, this is SedonaEye well known for people post baseless info but want everyone to listen to them.

    To the poster who says that we should move to Bev Hills and hire a private fire department; I’m fine with the SFD that we have, yes Kazian should prove that he cut costs before moving forward with any type of Bond. I have used the ambulance from SFD and was provided with exceptional service by some very kind paramedics. Just remember that their service is free of charge except for our property tax!

  14. @John Daniels says:

    Paramedic services are NOT FREE. We get billed for that. So I know that for a fact. I have the bills to show. You get charged for every element of it. Pick up transport, medical care and any drugs.

    So please don’t lie. WE PAY for that services (paramedics) ABOVE the property taxes.

  15. @ Walt says:

    Walt,

    Does that figure that you put out account that our city is split with only 3 ways in and out of town???? Kind of hard to close a few stations and still expect to meet response times. Oh shoot, the recalled board wanted to do that it, IT GOT THEM KICKED OUT OF OFFICE! Nuff Said!

  16. John Daniels says:

    To @

    I know from experience that if you have insurance the insurance company is billed any remaining balance was FREE to me. Of course you have to be a resident in the district. My wife and I have both had emergency transport over the years and we did receive bills that we turned over to the insurance company but WE PAID NOTHING!

    Please stop the lies already.

  17. @John Daniels says:

    Insurance payments are not FREE. Grow up. Well unless you are a government employee. Everyone else pays.

    NO ONE gets it FREE! resident or not. The Fire Department gets MONEY for ALL services! They get paid by insurance or individual along with property taxes.

    You must be a FD employee and don’t want to public to know they paid MORE for those services.
    Everyone pays nothing is free. BS er.

  18. Fire Station Locations says:

    The Five active locations

    Station #1 2860 Southwest Drive, Sedona, AZ 86336 | (928) 282-6800

    Station #3 125 Slide Rock Road, Sedona, AZ 86351

    Station #4 391 Forest Road, Sedona, AZ 86336

    Station #5 3971 North Highway 89A, Sedona, AZ 86336

    Station #6 2675 State Route 179, Sedona, AZ 86336

  19. Ted says:

    thumbs up

  20. West sedona resident says:

    Twobly

    You are an idiot and have no idea what your talking about…..You just make it up as you go along….Not just this bit of fiction….but every nonsense you’ve ever wrote…..

    Doesn’t surprise me that ESM jumped on your fairy tale train….Since much of her writing is fiction as well

  21. Tsk, Tsk says:

    “Twobly?” So identifies the brilliant West sedona resident as the author of the subject letter to the editor. So much for credibility. Ho, ho, ho – and this ain’t from Santa Claus

  22. MShobert says:

    Same stale arguments – from the same stale, over-inflated ego-maniacs. You do not know what you speak about!

    I cannot believe this joke of a “news source” would print what is essentially an anonomyous letter, with “alternative facts.”

    These FD needs were identified 10 years ago. Anonymous whining has zero cred! You are cowards, if you won’t sign your real name! Yes! …c-o-w-a-r-d-s!!!

  23. Jim Poole says:

    Our world has changed significantly over the last 10 years @ MShobert. In order to stay in this era change continuous review, tracking, and innovation is needed.

    Things that have changed over the last ten years in the SRR FD is our population has declined, less full time residents, less childern, we have many more day trippers, and along with roundabouts. We also have an additional light on 89A.

    We need to keep up with the times. Ten years ago things were different. The situation and needs are not the same in today’s world.

    Efficiency, utilization, management, and cost savings are always ongoing. It is clear that anyone not willing to review and progress are not working for the health welfare and safety of the fire district.

    Money and excessive funds is the lazy man way. If the Chief and his staff were that great then they should be able to think, plan and progress in 2017 and beyond. Your statements of ten year back only show that you are living in the dark ages.

    Are you trying to state you worked for the FD by using that name MShobert? Aren’t you still in Cali after your accident and retirement?

  24. Dave, VOC says:

    Curious minds want to know?

  25. Tom Longo says:

    I find it very interesting that those individuals who have negative comments about this issue did not bother applying to the citizen’s committee that will be discussing this very item. Wouldn’t that have been a more worthwhile/productive endeavor instead of bellyaching here? From what I understand, the sessions will be open to the public and will be recorded and available on the SFD site. Come to the meetings and share your thoughts so that your views will be taken into consideration. Don’t you think that will be a more sensible course of action?

  26. John Daniels says:

    To Tom Longo

    wow you’re dead on with that. It’s so easy to be a malcontent and bellyache about everything. It’s the same person with multi-pal personalities who has a lot to say on SE about the Chamber contract that never bothered to speak their 3 minutes at a council meeting. That would take too much of their time.

  27. JJ says:

    @ Tom Longo
    Any bond has to be voted in. Time is better spent on educating people to get out and vote.
    What can you do to accomplish this? This has been the main problem for as long as I remember. People do not get involved. Look at voter participation in all the main issues that happen in this region.

  28. The Thought Proctologist says:

    @ Wsr, West Sedona Resident, West sedona resident, West sedona Resident, WSR, WSR times 2, Anonymous and All Readers at The Eye:

    Re:The double-speaking fraud known as West sedona resident, Feb 18, to Twombly~

    It’s time for your regular appointment for an enema to relieve your intellectual constipation which sounds like a broken record that nobody listens to…Below is the proof that you can NEVER be believed since you’ve admitted that you, yourself, use multiple handles and then lie to cover up the fact.

    From The Thought Proctologist;

    Apparently J. Rick won’t repeat his own comments here since, I suppose, he feels to do so shouldn’t be necessary. So, I’ll do it for him, as follows, since I do happen to think the following comment needs to be repeated until the subject troll goes away forever:

    Under Eddie Maddock’s column of November 23, 2016 is this comment;

    J. Rick Normand says:
    December 26, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    @All Readers at The Eye:

    Re Hecklers: WSR (the ultimate hater and fraud posting above on Dec 25), Wsr, West sedona Resident and Anonymous

    Here is proof that hecklers like the one(s) below can NEVER be believed or trusted, not to mention that these trolls have no interest whatsoever in the articles which their attack targets have posted and labored to thoroughly research. See below:

    Reply to JRN from>>>
    West sedona Resident says:
    December 4, 2016 at 9:08 am

    J Rick Normand
    Thought Proctologist

    The above are both the same person….J Rick still can’t understand why you use your real name AND then an Alias

    Yes that anonymous post was WSR…forgot to fill it in before I posted

    *****

    J. Rick Normand says:
    December 6, 2016 at 9:21 am

    @West sedona Resident, WSR, Wsr, & Anonymous,

    Do you realize that you’ve just admitted that YOU’RE ALL FOUR OF THESE HANDLES while accusing me of being two handles with no evidence or confirmation of any kind? Can’t you ever do anything right?

    JRN

    *****

    Reply to JRN from>>>
    West sedona resident says:
    December 6, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    JRN

    So what….

    Wsr WSR west sedona resident. Yeah it’s all me …I repeat so what….[sic] there’s all the same…. I’m not pretending to be JRN. And the Thought Proctologist… what’s your point…..Or as in most of your posts….”there is no point”. Just a lot of huffing and hot air

    *****
    From JRN to West sedona Resident, WSR, Wsr, & Anonymous>>>

    Aside from what is revealed through your own words, WSR/Wsr, you’ve proved some other things, namely, that you’re incapable of original research and authoring related articles, incapable of deductive logic, and incapable of achieving enough credibility to persuade anyone to believe in your drivel which you tend to repeat incessantly. You need to find a new game! [and venue (TTP)]

    [End]

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