First I want to thank the editor of the Sedona Eye for allowing all manner of communication regarding the Sedona Fire Department Board Recall election.
This is a very important election, but perhaps not for the reasons those who wish to fill the recalled member seats suggest.
From the 4/13/11 budget meeting “In 2002, the budget had reached $6.6 million, and rose to $15.9 million in 2009.” The budget soared as two firefighters wives were on the SFD Board and property values rose. They made sure every incoming tax dollar was spent. Ask yourself, did your income go up 240% during that period?
You hear cries of “Armageddon”, and from then “Chief” Hazime in the SFD budget workshop of 4/13/11 “In my professional opinion, this reduction of $2.5 million from the annual budget could cause the loss of life and property within the Sedona Fire District.”
In that same meeting then “Chief” Hazime said “The Board neither commissioned nor requested any form of study or cost-benefit analysis. Therefore, the Sedona Fire District Governing Board must obtain an expert professional Fire Administrator to justify its position with an opinion and study of the $2.5 million budget reduction without exposing the community to unreasonable risk and reduction of services.” Does this sound like someone who is cooperating with the Board?
Hence, the McGladry report. This is the same report that Hazime essentially forced the board to undertake and Hazime now along with Cooperman and Schoen are saying was a waste of taxpayer money. This same report that suggested actions that would result in millions of additional savings.
The other platform of Hazime, Schoen and Cooperman is the current board’s “excessive” legal fees. I have not done an exact accounting, however some of the not budgeted legal fees were accrued due to Hazime’s quitting SFD, some were due to the search his replacement and the most amazing thing to me is a citizen of SFD can contact the SFD attorneys and bill it to SFD. Some of the most vocal critics of the current SFD board were also the biggest citizen users of the SFD attorneys.
Other background on Cooperman and Schoen, they both want a new station in the Chapel area, and they both live in the Chapel area. The same chapel area that is less than 4 miles from 2 SFD stations.
It only takes 3 Board members to vote for consolidation with another fire district. As Hazime is chief of Verde Valley Fire, if Sedona consolidates with Verde Valley Fire you could see the mil rates, which are the tax rates “equalized.” If Sedona FD rates of $1.40 per thousand of assessed valuation were matched to the Higher Verde Valley Fire rate of $2.40, just like magic, your taxes for the fire district go up 71%. A fireman, Hazime on the board, and just like the old days of 2002-2009, your taxes could go up. Hazime might even end up chief of the new district, wouldn’t that be lucky for him. Or maybe planned. You decide.
It is my firm belief, that Hazime, Cooperman and Schoen will lead to higher taxes.
There are still lots of excess staff and waste at SFD. Many cuts can be made before you get to the line fire fighters. Take a look at my other posts on the Sedona Eye.
Keep in mind the Jerome AZ fire department has 1 full time paid employee, their Chief, and he responds to calls just like the volunteers.
SFD has 107 full time employees, 15 of those are Captains, 54 are line engineers, EMT’s and fire fighters. What do the other 38 do? I’ve asked, I don’t think anyone but the person themself really knows. Three senior management staff have quit, I don’t think they are missed. One other point, the SFD board, by law, can only talk to the SFD Chief. Only the Chief and hire and fire. The board only controls the budget.
Some additional background, my fiance, Julianna Stewart was employed by Sedona Fire Department for about 7 years. After hearing many stories of the waste and overstaffing at SFD I became a bit irritated and started communication with the current Board of SFD. Then SFD Chief Hazime terminated Ms Stewart shortly thereafter. There were 4 male firefighters who were in exactly the same situation but were not disciplined in any way. At the termination hearing we brought this to Hazime’s attention, he replied “I’m just focusing on you.” SFD’s insurance company later settled with Ms Stewart. For complete documentation and other SFD info please go to Sedonafirefunnyfarm.com.
I am a 20 year resident of Sedona, President of the Oak Creek Knolls Homeowners Association, and a taxpayer. I am not affiliated with any candidate.
Thank you for your time, Vote Wisely.Tony Tonsich Sedona AZ