Sedona AZ (June 15, 2012) – The SedonaEye. com publishes the minutes of the Sedona Fire District Board meetings without editorial comment:
SFD PUBLIC BUDGET AND REGULAR BOARD MEETING Station #1 – 2860 Southwest Drive – West Sedona – Multipurpose Room Wednesday, June 13, 2012 / 4:30 PM
~ MINUTES ~
I. CALL TO ORDER/ROLL CALL.
Board Present: Ty Montgomery – Chairman; Corrie Cooperman – Clerk; Craig Dible; Nazih Hazime; Diane Schoen – Members
Staff Present: Fire Chief Kris Kazian; Assistant Chief Terry Keller; Fire Marshal Gary Johnson; Finance Manager Sandi Schmidt; Communications Specialist Lead Supervisor Jeff Jennings; Executive Assistant/Recorder to the Board Tricia Greer
Others Present: 23 Members of the Public
II. SALUTE TO THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND MOMENT OF SILENCE TO HONOR ALL AMERICAN MEN AND WOMEN IN SERVICE TO OUR COUNTRY, FIREFIGHTERS, AND POLICE OFFICERS.
Chairman Ty Montgomery led the Pledge of Allegiance and Moment of Silence.
III. PUBLIC FORUM.
Phyllis Erick, Chapel Area: I live in the Chapel area, where we will soon have an unneeded station that may answer approximately 14 calls a month which may not even be transports or emergency calls. Some may be community service calls. I would like to know what the firemen are going to do with the other 15 to 16 days a month. That is less than 3% of the annual calls for this district. We should not be building the station because we cannot improve our response times. This is asking for more. When is Sedona going to wake up? This district already costs the taxpayers over $1 million a month. We are going back to paying not only for on-going education also but for education for the employees that they should be paying for. Any other workplace would not allow itself to be burdened with this expense. Why is the taxpayer asked to? If this is done, we are told we will get a better fireman. We have good firemen. We do not need to pay for more education. In essence, our service will be better if we are willing to pay more. These entitlements need to stop being at our expense. Times have changed. We should not go backwards. We should not be working our way back to that $16 million budget we once had. There are some on the Board that did not grasp the budget before and obviously still cannot. After attending the budget meeting on June the 6th, there are issues that need to be addressed. The first being the mil rate, if people want to be convinced that their taxes are not being increased. They can stay behind the smoke screen this district is presenting, but if they want the reality, take a look at your tax statement and compare it to last year’s. The Board has not been in office even one month and Mrs. Schoen and the Board have started to break their promises. We will not raise taxes. Guess what, taxes are going up. All in the guise of better service to keep us safe. More men to do less work. We will be transparent. At the last budget meeting, Mrs. Schoen, you wanted to suppress public information regarding the Chapel station until legal counsel corrected you. You ran for the Board stating you knew Board protocol and would not break rules. You also mentioned the Chapel Committee at that time, a committee made up of six for the station, one questioning the need. It was said the committee was there not to decide whether to build it but really only to decide what color to paint it. Then, there was the reserve
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committee. Who did that consist of? Ty Montgomery, Chief Hazime, and Terry Keller. Maybe that is the answer to why it went nowhere.
You are continuing on your agenda with no regards for the taxpayer. You’re gorging on the wallets of the taxpayers. The Red Rock News will not inform the public to what is happening at these meetings. If this district and Board think that they should be exempt from cutting back and continuing to burden the taxpayer with poor management and overspending, we should remind them what happened in San Diego and San Jose.
Dave Blauert, West Sedona: I run a business at 44 Stutz Bearcat. I’m here to speak on almost reminiscing what Ms. Erick said. You guys ran half page ads, three of you people that you ran for office. Not going to raise taxes, raised a mil rate what you are to 1.63, call either county or State of Arizona, ask them a very simple question. Raise the mil rate, does that raise taxes? They are going to tell you, yes. So, you lied to them then or you’re lying now. I’d like to know. Is this the way the Board’s going to act. Just raise taxes, run with it. Mr. Montgomery, you endorsed this. So, is this where we’re going? Thank you.
IV. PUBLIC BUDGET MEETING.
A. Discussion/Possible Action: Proposed Fiscal Year 2012/2013 Sedona Fire District Budget.
1. Mil Levy Rate.
2. Amount of Budget.
3. Approval to Publish.
Joan McClelland, VOC: I’ve lived here since 1980. I simply want… I read the minutes of your last meeting and the Fire Chief asked to have this $1.5 million as placeholder in the budget, and I understand you need to get a budget and maybe you’ve got a deadline for your budget.
You’ve got to do it. It’s…I hope not totally, decided that this fire station will be built, but I agree with the Fire Chief, it’s a placeholder, and that’s all it is. It doesn’t mean that it’s in concrete. In fact, he said he’s hopeful that would be on the high end. I notice on your agenda, you have item b, the Midway Chapel, and this came up at the last meeting, Mr. Dible has plans for, if you do build a Midway station, that will not have all the bells and whistles and will serve the public just beautifully and save the taxpayer a lot of money. I hope you take all of this into consideration.
Dwight Kadar, Village of Oak Creek: We are new residents here. I just have some observations regarding this budget. A couple of things. I see this budget is to restore a 3% COLA. We haven’t had inflation in this country for 3% in at least 10 years. So, I’m not quite sure what we’re trying to do there.
And tuition reimbursement. Again, not sure and pay step advances. All of these things in this environment and I agree with the comments about San Diego and Oakland, San Jose, about public funding and taxes. At some point in time, we’ve got to begin to rein this in. The idea that this mil rate isn’t costing us anything. Our assessed value, my personal assessed value would have to go down 14% for me to have no change in my taxes based on your 16% increase in the mil rate. And given the fact that it appears from all the analysis I’ve done that home values have bottomed out and are actually starting to increase, I’d be interested to hear if you guys would be willing to take a decrease in your mil rate when assessed values start going back up? Thank you.
Kathy Huffstetler, Village of Oak Creek: I’ve lived there for six years. And I have several questions about the budget and then a comment.
I was wishing that we had a copy of the proposed budget so that we can see what each item cost and how much the increase will cost. Second, I wonder if the Board has an open budget or if there’s a ceiling. I wonder what the projected cost of the fire district raises will be for the COLA and also what percent will be given for step raises and the total cost for the tuition reimbursement. Given the state of the economy, will the department be buying state of the art equipment, building, or other items or going with what is affordable? If it is necessary to spend a great deal on one item such as the Chapel, will an attempt be made to economize in other areas, such as the Station 4 and Communication Center. In other words, will you be setting priorities? What do you see is your mission and who is your client? Is the client the fire district staff or the Fire Chief or the constituents who will pay for these items? About two years ago,
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there was a SID or Special Improvement District in the Village of Oak Creek. There was a lot of controversy because the cost of the SID would have been about the cost of one latte a day. I did the numbers for our home and our rental property and if you were using the $1.75 mil rate. I think it comes out to about three lattes. Think about your priorities.
Dick Fishel, West Sedona: I understand that we can’t continue to spend reserves to pay for bills. So, I understand why an adjustment in the mil rate is necessary to keep our current levels of service intact.
However, I believe I reflect the opinion of the majority of the fire district taxpayers when I recommend that a mil rate increase at this time be minimal and at an amount that will not be bottom line increase in tax amounts. As I understand it, that was basically the positions of the new incumbents elected to the Board. I believe it’s also important that when that mil rate increase is approved, a commitment also be made to reduce the mil rate once the property values improve, that provides income that surpasses operating expenses. I believe that commitment is the only way to prove that your intent is not to take the fire district back to the excessive taxation days. Thank you.
Mr. Montgomery opened the discussion.
Fire Chief Kris Kazian said he would attempt to address some of the budgetary concerns expressed today; the proposed mil rate is 1.63 multiplied by the assessed value (AV) as provided by Yavapai and Coconino Counties; Yavapai County property is projected to decrease an average of 16.29% and the decrease for Coconino County is projected at 9.04%; last year, SFD took in $8,114,805 in tax revenue and for the coming year, by multiplying the mil rate of 1.63 times the assessed value, it is projected SFD will bring in $8,094,617, which is about $20,000 less taxpayer dollars.
He said there has been some discussion regarding what is a tax increase or decrease, and if the value of your property is less and you pay the same, is that an increase or not; he stated SFD’s, the Fire Chief’s, and Board Members’ goal is to keep that as close to $0 as possible, so that if you as a taxpayer paid $500 last year to SFD, our goal is that you will pay approximately $500 this year; he said he believes that is a non-increase; if your property did not depreciate as much as predicted, then your property tax may go up slightly; all the district can do to predict our revenue needs is to use the projections given to us by the Counties.
Chief Kazian compared it to a “teeter-totter” and as AV goes up, the mil rate should go down which is his intention. He pointed out SFD has increasing costs such as for vehicle fuel and electricity; he projected including a small escalator each year forward, but the proposed budget is $12.754 million and last year’s budget was $13.2, which means the budget is about $550,000 less than last year. Chief Kazian said that is being fiscally responsible and we have tightened our belt and are doing “more with less” effectively.
Chief Kazian pointed out if individuals own multiple properties, commercial, or unimproved property, those may be taxed higher, but that is because of the rules of taxation; he cannot base his decisions on how to run the fire district on multiple property owners. He said for those residents in Coconino County, which is predicted to have a 9% decrease in AV, it is possible your SFD taxes may go up slightly, but next year, it is predicted to be the opposite of Yavapai County.
He said we have no intentions of bolstering our staff and making things “bigger and better” and “frivolously spending”. He said, some day, SFD’s budget may be back to $15.9 million, but it would be a long time at a 3% to 4% annual escalator, depending on necessary capital projects; he said there is a misperception that if SFD increases the mil rate by 16.5%, taxes will increase by the same; if your property does not depreciate at all, then that would be a true statement, but the Counties have given us projections of decreased AV and using the 1.63 as a multiplier, typically, taxes will remain the same.
Board Member Nazih Hazime said budgeting is a fine balance and he believes Chief Kazian has done a great job to balance the overall budget and allow SFD to function, maintain, and have needed items; he pointed out the first projection for the mil rate was 1.65, but it has been reduced to 1.63 and still able to manage the needs of the district; he stated the Board and staff is handling this carefully and cautiously; however, we must also be realistic about what may happen next year and the following years because it is not possible to ignore the future of the district and the community.
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Board Member Diane Schoen referenced the report from the Chapel/Midway Station Study Committee (attached), in which a comparison of SFD was made to like-size Arizona fire districts, and the mil rates range from the highest of 2.75 to the lowest of 1.40 for SFD, and the next lowest is 1.73.
Chief Kazian said after this budget process, if we again take a look at those like-size fire districts, our mil rate increase will be small in comparison and SFD will likely still be the lowest of career fire districts.
Chief Kazian said regarding the Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) at 3%, Board Member Craig Dible provided information about Social Security adjustments of more, and our firefighters have had no increases in three years, which creates a cumulative effect.
He pointed out the tuition reimbursement program is proposed at $25,000, which may not even be used because employees have to apply; he again indicated that most fire districts in the Verde Valley have educational reimbursement programs, and at 100 employees, the figure represents less than $250 each per year to invest in our people and provide better services.
He stated the COLA would cost about $238,000 and step increases are projected at $89,000. He does not know why the Reserve program was not yet implemented, but at this point, there is money included in the proposed budget to begin a program to offset costs and enhance current services.
Board Clerk Corrie Cooperman said one of our speakers mentioned that home values are flattening, but just as a reminder, property tax AV is based two years in arrears, so SFD will not see those adjustments for at least two more budget cycles.
Chief Kazian agreed and stated we have provided documentation of projected AV declines with the “flattening” effect in two budget cycles, and since 2009, the decrease in AV and keeping the mil rate at 1.40 saved SFD taxpayers more than $5 million; he will continue to try to save taxpayer dollars as the Fire Chief, but we still have to do business effectively and efficiently; he reminded the audience of the comparison to “Lean Jay” and his weight loss with SFD having a similar “weight loss” in reduced taxes of 45 to 48%; he pointed out SFD’s actual operating costs are under $1 million per month and does not believe a district this size providing the services we provide could be done for less.
Mr. Montgomery asked Chief Kazian to review how we are proposing the mil rate using current reserve funds;
Chief Kazian responded setting the mil rate at 1.63 will bring in $8,094,805 and the remainder of the budget includes non-tax revenue such as ambulance billing and $2,435,147 will be taken from reserves. Mr. Montgomery said we are spending down money collected in prior years in order to “soften” the increase of the mil rate, which would be much greater without using those reserves. Chief Kazian stated SFD is systematically spending reserves down and it is projected some reserves will be left to tap next year; he does not believe the mil rate is the “demon” of which we speak, but what we must focus on is the dollar amount needed to run the fire district; the mil rate and AV move up and down as economic times change; after the reserves are gone, it will be a problem to make up the money needed to operate the district, and the mil rate may have to increase if AVs stay down; however, when AV increases, and those numbers balance out, the “teeter-totter” effect kicks in.
Mr. Dible said in addition to what Mrs. Schoen said about like-size districts referenced in the report, that the assessed valuation part of the equation is missing; he used Crown King as an example, at $3.25 because there is not much AV; he asked what the total AV is for Sedona;
Chief Kazian said it is about $500 million; Mr. Dible said that is reflected when the AV is dramatically different than the mil rate; Chief Kazian referred back to the “teeter-totter” example. Mr. Dible said property owners received the 2012 Notice of Value in February with two figures – from 2011 and 2012 numbers, most everyone’s went down, which means a percentage of decline in your underlying asset; he said property owners would be receiving their tax bill around September, which will have a line item for SFD containing last year’s and this year’s amount of funding for SFD and if the property’s underlying value is reduced and fire district tax stays the same or goes up, he sees that as a tax increase;
Mr. Dible said he intends to support the Chief because he believes the mil rate needs to be increased in order to operate in a fiscally prudent manner. Chief Kazian asked, in theory, using the same logic, several years ago, SFD’s mil rate was decreased from 1.75 to 1.65 to 1.40 and by
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keeping the mil rate at 1.40 the next year and with AV decreasing the underlying value of the home, does that mean a tax increase. Mr. Dible said, no, it would go down following the underlying value of the home.
Mr. Dible said he would be “out of here at the end of the year” because he does not intend to run in the upcoming election, but would like to set a goal for the next budget cycle, even though he understands it is partially equipment and other capital expenditures, to get the total budget under $12 million.
Chief Kazian stated with necessary capital expenditures, he believes that is an unrealistic goal he is not comfortable setting; he believes it is just an arbitrary number – maybe a good “talking point”; he does not want to set an unrealistic goal or a false pretense. Mr. Hazime said it is safer to support trying to reduce the budget in whatever way possible and the Board would try to achieve that.
Mrs. Schoen said she needs to respond to Mr. Dible because the table she referenced in the Chapel report shows the amount of fire district taxes on homes assessed at $350,000, using that same figure across the board to compare the districts. She then said she is concerned about people thinking SFD can continue to “cut and cut and cut” because what it eventually cuts is the safety of the district; she asked Chief Kazian to share some events that occurred in this fire district last Sunday.
Chief Kazian stated on Sunday morning at 10:18, SFD received an EMS call for Station 3 in the Village of Oak Creek (VOC), with an ambulance and engine responding; at 10:21 AM, there was another EMS request in the VOC with Uptown’s Station 4 engine and ambulance responding; at 10:25 AM, SFD received another call from West Fork in Oak Creek Canyon for a hike-out and Stations 5 and 1 responded, along with the Battalion Chief and Chief Kazian; at 10:35 AM, we received another ambulance call from VOC and, luckily, Station 3’s engine was able to respond from its previous call, but an ambulance had to respond from West Sedona.
He said if this type of thing only happened one time, it would not be a “big deal”, but in the three months he has been at SFD, he can think of at least three times, when all apparatus has been out on calls at the same time; then, at 12:50 PM on Sunday, SFD received a call for a rescue at Slide Rock State Park in the Canyon, and Station 5 responded; Station 4’s ambulance and engine also responded along with the Battalion Chief; Station 3 sent out the rescue squad with the technical rescue equipment and were on scene for a few hours and after that, the ambulance did not return from Flagstaff, where it had transported the patient, until 6:00 PM, meaning the ambulance company was unavailable for additional calls for more than five hours.
He said this is a frequent occurrence for SFD and removing staffing or taking things away will just exacerbate the situation. Chief Kazian said he would have details about the multiple resident VOC fire in his report later.
He said his commitment as Fire Chief is to provide effective public service – EMS and fire – for every one of the residents of the SFD in a fiscally responsible manner, which is why he is proposing this budget and mil rate.
Mrs. Schoen said it is hard to believe how important SFD’s service is until you need it; so, we can think we are safe in our decreased valued homes saying we do not want to pay more taxes, but when the day comes that you are one of those people like on Sunday, you will want this department to be there. She said as a Board Member, she wants the community to be safe, and gives credit to the last Board for cutting expenses, but right now, she believes there is no choice but to move forward.
Mr. Montgomery then entertained a motion; Chief Kazian pointed out staff needs a formal action to publish the budget, as presented; Mrs. Schoen moved to publish the proposed FY 2012/2013 budget and set the mil rate at 1.63; Mrs. Cooperman seconded. Mr. Dible asked for the proposed total budget amount; Chief Kazian replied $12,754,677. Mr. Montgomery stated that is the “ceiling” of the budget to be published. The motion then unanimously passed.
Chief Kazian explained there is a 20 day requirement to publish the proposed budget, which will be sent to the Red Rock News tomorrow, for publication in the Wednesday, June 20th edition, as well as being posted at Stations 1, 3 and 4 for public viewing and on the SFD website; he explained this would not be the lengthy
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line by line budget, but rather, a summary. Any individual may come to the station and request to see the entire budget, line by line. He said if the July Fire Board meeting is moved to July 18th, the entire budget would be presented for approval by the Board at that time.
V. CONSENT AGENDA.
A. Consent Agenda.
1. May 8, 2012 Special Board Meeting Minutes.
2. May 22, 2012 Special Board Meeting Minutes.
3. May 23, 2012 Public Budget Workshop and Business Meeting Minutes.
4. May 23, 2012 Executive Session Minutes.
Mrs. Schoen moved to approve the consent agenda, as presented; Mrs. Cooperman seconded, and the motion was unanimously approved.
VI. BUSINESS MEETING.
A. Items from Staff:
1. Discussion/Possible Action: PulsePoint Software Contract. (Communications Specialist/Acting Lead Supervisor Jeff Jennings)
Communications Specialist/Acting Lead Supervisor Jeff Jennings presented a PowerPoint program and stated PulsePoint is a non-profit organization started in the San Francisco area to integrate one of a fire department’s great resources – its citizens – with the public access automatic external defibrillator (AED) program and CPR instruction. He said a “smart” phone application is available to alert CPR-trained citizens if an EMS 911 call is received near their location in a public area. He explained the scenario is that dispatch receives a 9-1-1 call for a cardiac arrest and the system sends a broadcast message to alert those in the system within 500 meters of the patient; the details are then sent to their phone to show the location of the incident and also the availability of an AED.
Mr. Jennings played a video explaining the system. He stated the only real cost to the district for this program is in the computer aided dispatch interface, but an anonymous sponsor is interested in funding SFD’s portion with the stipulation the program be implemented soon. Early access to CPR is proven to improve survivability rates for cardiac arrest and this program could help.
Mrs. Cooperman asked how many AED units are available for public use in Sedona; Assistant Chief Terry Keller responded there are about 40 units in the community, and ironically, a gentleman that worked for a defibrillation company was visiting Sedona last year and collapsed underneath an AED in Uptown and the device was never pulled for his care; the gentleman survived the event, but subsequently, died from complications of his disease; had SFD had PulsePoint when this occurred, perhaps an individual nearby would have had a smart phone with the information to use the AED to assist the man. Chief Kazian said the idea is that as we move forward, other communities will join the PulsePoint program and this service will be more widely available.
Mr. Montgomery stated he is concerned if the devices would be notified of all incidents within the district, particularly for structure fires and the possible liability; Mr. Jennings said it would only notify interested individuals of an incident if they are within 300 to 500 meters of the patient. He said other agencies using the system have not experienced problems with the public showing up on-scene for incidents other than cardiac arrests and if an individual is within 500 meters of a structure fire, they would most likely know it before receiving a notification because of the smoke; Mr. Jennings said SFD could have control over which call types it broadcasts. He also said there would be no penalty involved if the district chose to discontinue the program since it is a non-profit organization. Mr. Montgomery asked when the sponsor wants the program to begin; Mr. Jennings responded he will explain the program and software agreement next week at the Verde Valley Fire Chiefs meeting and once legal review is completed, it would be shortly thereafter.
Chief Kazian asked for consensus of the Board to continue our legal review of the contract, as well as to move forward with our research. Mr. Montgomery asked if the Board had any philosophical disagreements
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with the Chief pursuing this and there were none stated. Mr. Dible stated a motion was indicated on the document of information for the Board; Chief Kazian said that was an option, but there are legal issues to cover and the district is not ready for a formal motion at this time.
Chief Kazian then requested Items A2 and A3 be switched, so as to allow Chief Keller to provide his PowerPoint program while the equipment is in use.
2. Presentation of Distinguished Budget Award to SFD for the Fiscal Year Beginning July 1, 2011 from Government Finance Officers Association. (Chief Kazian)
Chief Kazian stated it was his honor and privilege to present Finance Manager Sandi Schmidt with the Distinguished Budget Award for Fiscal Year 2012 from the International Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada; this is the third consecutive year SFD received the award; he thanked the current Finance team, as well as former employees, for hard work on the budget presentation.
3. Presentation of Mountain Rescue Association Life Saving Award to Sedona Fire District with Coconino County Search/Rescue and the Department of Public Safety for the excellent multi-agency rescue performed in Insomnia Canyon on August 13 – 14, 2011. (Assistant Chief Keller)
Chief Keller wanted to remind the Board and public regarding a rescue in Oak Creek Canyon held from 8/13 to 8/14/11, of SFD, Coconino County Sheriff, and Arizona Department of Transportation. A gentleman fell approximately 130 feet while “canyoneering” in West Fork and suffered severe injuries; because of the remote location and accessibility issues, the rescue took two days and multiple agencies to complete. The agencies received an award from the Mountain Rescue Association at the National Association of Search and Rescue conference in Lake Tahoe last week. Chief Kazian commented SFD deals with these types of difficult issues on a fairly regular basis and the details of the rescue are pretty amazing.
4. Discussion/Possible Action: Purchase Order #7911, Tyler Technologies, $32,972.58 for subscription services. (Note: The contract for this service was approved by the Fire Board on 12/14/2011). (Fire Chief Kazian)
Chief Kazian said the purchase order is for the contract service which was previously approved by the Fire Board and is more of a formality to inform the Board of the $32,972.58 expenditure. Mr. Dible asked how the Tyler Technologies implementation was going; Mrs. Schmidt replied the “live” date with Tyler is now projected for February or March with quite a few weeks of on-site training beforehand, some starting in October. Chief Kazian said this is to get the trainers on the schedule and technological pieces in place; he stated staff met with Tyler representatives a few weeks ago, and he had reported to the Board last month about the progress; Mr. Dible replied it is a good system.
5. Discussion/Possible Action: Reschedule July 25, 2012 SFD Fire Board Meeting to July 18, 2012. (Fire Chief Kazian)
Chief Kazian said the reason to reschedule the meeting a week early is to allow the required 20 days for publishing the proposed budget before the Counties’ deadlines for approval. The meeting is to be held on Wednesday, July 18, 2012, at 4:30 PM; by consensus, the Board agreed to reschedule the meeting.
B. Item from Board Member Craig Dible:
1. Discussion: Midway (Chapel) Station Design.
Dick Fishel, West Sedona: I was concerned with some conversation at a previous Board meeting of some possibilities about going back to the original three-bay all-inclusive station at the Midway facility.
While I agree that a Midway Station is needed, I don’t believe that the current Midway population or the current economic status can justify a three-bay, very expensive all-inclusive facility at this time. I’ve heard that there is only 12% available land for new construction in Sedona. So, I don’t believe there will be any big population explosions in the Midway area in the near future. I also believe a good two-bay, conservative
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design can be made to accommodate expansion in the future if it’s needed without looking like an add-on. I would highly recommend you take the recommendation of the Midway Station study committee and authorize a scaled down, two-bay station at this time and please don’t take as much time to get it done as it has been in the past. Thank you.
Norris Peterson, Chapel Area: I’m here to talk about the Chapel Fire Station, but in a little different light which is… I want to talk about water. And I think water is a pretty important, critical element when you talk about fighting fire and where you propose to build a fire station.
In January of 2011, so it’s well over a year ago, AZ Water Company belatedly released a report entitled Sedona Storage Tank Size Report and the date says on it, Updated February 1, 2010. This report is the underlying document that AZ Water used to justify the need for building a large million and a half gallon storage facility in the Chapel area. This report is 29 pages in length, so it goes into a fair level of detail.
My first question is, has Sedona Fire Department obtained a copy of this report? If so, has Sedona Fire Department reviewed this document? And considered the implications of this report? If not… if you have not received a copy of this report, I feel you must get a copy and do it as part of your due diligence on proposing a fire station in the Chapel area. The conclusion in this report is that there is, currently, an inadequate reliable water supply to fight a fire in the entire area of Sedona south of Broken Arrow. It’s a fairly large area and they’re putting the fire station, essentially, in the middle of that.
Proposing to put one in. I suggest that it is not logical to build anything more than an ambulance service in an area with a water supply company says there’s inadequate unreliable water supply. I strongly recommend that if you want to build a Chapel Fire Station to host firefighting equipment and personnel, that your first order of business by Sedona Fire District must be to make sure that there is an adequate, reliable water supply. Until this is done, you should not move forward with any kind of proposal.
To date, I’m unaware that the Sedona Fire District, excuse me, fire department has participated in any review or comment on this critical matter. Currently, this proposal was stalled and not moving forward. More importantly, I am unaware that water supply has entered into any analysis of the purpose, use, function, or size of the proposed Chapel Fire Station. If not, why not? I strongly urge that someone do a critical analysis of this AZ Water Report and report back to this Board and to the community on how this Report’s findings integrate into the plan for this proposed Chapel Fire Station. I am in support of building a Chapel Fire Station. I always have been, but I am not in favor of supporting building a monument that will not meet the needs and serve this community. Thank you.
Mr. Dible stated this is a follow-up to the report which he initiated on June 6th, with the material to be made available on SFD’s website. He stated he sent a clearer copy of his handout to Executive Assistant Tricia Greer, and she inadvertently included this information in the Board packets for today’s meeting. Mr. Dible asked why the Chapel Station Study Committee Report was also included in the Board packets of information; Mrs. Schoen responded she requested it be submitted.
Mr. Dible said he has a few more documents regarding his research on the Glenwood Springs, Colorado Station proposal including a June 11, 2012 Letter of Intent from the station’s designer – Robert West – with his background, and selected awards. Mr. Dible asked two Sedona contractors with 30-plus years experience to bid on the station and find out what it would cost to build this design; he stated they do not have the full station plans, but were asked to bid using Mr. Dible’s booklet with the floor plan and pictures; one bid came in on June 6th at $625,000 to $685,000 and one on June 11th at $625,000 to $675,000; he stated they gave a range of costs with the warning that 20% or so should be built-in because of unexpected costs, and noted the interesting part was they did the estimates independently. He said this is compared to the current LEA design of $1.4 million with $75,000 for the re-design; using the mid-range figure estimated by Sedona contractors of $650,000 and adding the working drawings of under $50,000 makes $700,000. He said last week, he neglected to include the hallways and offices in the re-design and provided an updated sheet.
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Mr. Montgomery alleged at this point in the budget process, we have included a placeholder for the Chapel Station, but no design option has been decided. Mr. Hazime asked if staff is currently looking at designs and stations for this project for further discussion; Chief Kazian replied, very preliminary dialogue has been held to look at both designs for a two-bay station. He said, currently, the figures being used are “vague” and he actually talked to LEA Architects today so he could better understand what is and is not included in the project and believes $1.4 million is higher than it will be. He stated he would have a phone conversation with Oz Architects, as well, since Mr. Dible has a good dialogue going with them; he believes he must talk with Oz to find out if we are comparing all required fire station items such as diesel exhaust systems, etc., to make sure Mr. Dible’s contractors included those in the projected $650,000 figure; we must be careful to compare “apples to apples” in considering costs of building the station, design features, maintenance, upkeep, energy efficiencies, and sustainability which he knows are included in the in-depth LEA concept. Staff needs Board direction to continue research before giving recommendations.
Mr. Hazime requested this process be handled by Chief Kazian and staff to bring suggestions to the Board and although he appreciates Mr. Dible’s efforts, he wants to make sure Board Members are not individually doing things outside the purview of the Board; he believes we should leave the process to the experts, which are Chief Kazian and staff, and he trusts they will tell the Board what they need to build a fire station and to bring back recommendations to the Board as a whole for a decision. Chief Kazian asked if the Board wants him to get detailed information from Oz Architects to compare “apples to apples” on the design details; Mr. Hazime said that is his opinion. Chief Kazian said staff will certainly be looking at functionality in station design, consider fiscal responsibilities in needs and design, and be concerned with making sure all required elements are in the designs we are discussing for a true comparison. Mr. Hazime said he does not want staff to rush through this, but to take time to thoroughly review before bringing a recommendation.
Mrs. Cooperman asked Chief Kazian to consider the Chapel Station Study Committee’s report and that the committee looked at the LEA design in detail including a presentation from LEA; she said they were impressed that Arizona-based LEA had built over 200 stations and received 54-plus awards for designs and functionality; she asked when the Chief thinks a staff presentation could be given; Chief Kazian said if SFD went with the LEA concept, based on his preliminary knowledge of the project, and after the Board making a decision to move forward, it could be 14 months to open the station with no “snags” along the way; as he has had no dialogue with Oz Architects, he could not guess how long their proposal would take; he said of concern to him is where the electric and utilities come into the Glenwood Springs design versus where they are located on our property and additional site work costs that are already figured into the LEA design; Mrs. Cooperman agreed and said soil management is already included in the LEA design as well. She asked Chief Kazian when he might be ready to bring his design recommendation to the Board; he suggested waiting until after the budget is approved in July and, possibly, that discussion could be held at the August Board meeting.
Mrs. Schoen noted she was appointed to serve on the Chapel Station Study Committee by former-Board Chairman David Blauert and the former Board; she believes the public needs to understand that an open call went to the community for interested persons to participate on the committee; she said nine people served on that committee, and there was another committee previous to that; the scope of the committee on which she served was not to make decisions about color of walls or other specifics as that is management’s role because they are paid to make decisions about what is needed in a fire station now and for the future.
Mrs. Schoen said there is an issue when we ask people publicly to serve and be appointed by a Board, and they spend endless time and effort to study a project including consideration of finances, and the committees’ recommendations are unheeded; she said LEA’s design won a national award and took into account environmental considerations and future growth; she is asking, as Mr. Hazime has asked, that management take over this project and all the Board Members stay out of it and allow management to bring recommendations to the entire Board for a decision. She said it is not the role of a Board Member to talk to
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builders and architects independent of the rest of the Board or management; she feels we need to have that respect given to the Fire Chief. Mr. Dible responded he does not want to build more than we need; he does not want to spend more than we have to; and he wants something that will look attractive and fit the neighborhood.
Mrs. Schoen stated she absolutely agrees with Mr. Dible in that and believes our management can bring options to address those concerns. Mr. Montgomery said his goal when elected to the Board was to get a presence in the Chapel; he can see both sides of the argument and understands there are other capital needs; he wants to make sure Mr. Dible’s recommendations are “apples to apples” and all the same things are included in the estimates as LEA’s and it should be the responsibility of staff to ferret that out taking into account the amount of work already done on this project by previous Boards and committees.
Chief Kazian said in order to be clear to the public, the award-winning LEA design is not the one we are currently considering as it has been modified and scaled down. Mrs. Schoen said she has copies of the modified version’s floor plans and asked the public to make their concerns known to Chief Kazian, as the management team makes its recommendations to the Board. Chief Kazian stated they would try to have information available at the August Board meeting. Mrs. Cooperman added, in terms of building a station that looks good in the neighborhood, the revised, scaled-down LEA version has the same award-winning shape and configuration and is quite beautiful; she said the station design submitted by Oz Architects is also good-looking, but fits more into a Colorado-style of architecture.
Mrs. Schoen stated she received a list from the Chairman of the Chapel Station Committee, Jim Evans, regarding his concerns about functionality to share with Chief Kazian.
C. Item from Board Member Diane Schoen:
1. Report: Diane Schoen’s and Corrie Cooperman’s Tour of SFD on May 29th.
Mrs. Schoen said it is important to understand the daily functions of the organization they represent. Chief Kazian recently took her and Mrs. Cooperman on a tour of the district. Mrs. Cooperman reported Chief Kazian organized a hands-on visit to the four staffed stations, which provided them with an excellent educational experience about SFD operations.
At Station 1, they were given a demonstration of the ladder truck and could easily see how strategic the ladder truck is in getting over a structure fire with its immense horizontal reach allowing firefighters to attack the flames from above, even when other engines cannot get close to the structure due to limited access. She said they visited the sites of the recent home fires in the Village of Oak Creek and learned the ladder truck was deployed to help prevent the spread of fire to nearby homes.
At Station 3 in the VOC, they learned technical information about the addition of chemicals to water to more efficiently extinguish fire; they were given a personal demonstration of a rescue and hike-out at Bell Rock; this was one of the many reasons they learned why it is important for our firefighters to stay in physically fit condition. Mrs. Schoen then reported they visited Station 5 in Oak Creek Canyon learning water in that area must be pumped due to the lack of fire hydrants. At Station 4 in Uptown, they were given the opportunity to put on turnout fire gear and shoot water from a fire hose; the Station 4 crew served them lunch and interacted with questions about the district. Chief Kazian welcomed any Board Member to join him on a district tour.
D. Item from Board Chairman Ty Montgomery:
1. Discussion/Possible Action: Appointment of Corrie Cooperman as Chairperson of the SFD Public Safety Personnel Retirement System Local Board.
Mr. Montgomery entertained a motion for Corrie Cooperman, as the Clerk of the Fire Board, to serve as Chairperson of the PSPRS Local Board; moved, Mr. Hazime seconded, and the motion was unanimously approved.
2. Discussion/Possible Action: Legal Representation. (From 6/6/12 Board Meeting.)
Mr. Montgomery said this was discussed at the last Board meeting regarding the Ridenour law firm and the acquisition of Bill Whittington as primary counsel; he reviewed the Ridenour contract, which states any
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engagement is at the direction of the Board Chair or the Fire Chief; he drafted a letter to the Ridenour firm to be mailed and copies given to the Board Members; he is not looking to terminate the relationship, but for any further expense incurred using the firm to be at the direction of himself or the Chief.
3. Discussion/Possible Action: Resolution #2012-05 / Call of Election for Two Board Vacancies in the November 2012 Election.
Mr. Montgomery said the Board must officially call the election to fill vacancies on the Fire Board; Mr. Hazime then moved to approve Resolution #2012-05, Call of Election; Mr. Dible seconded and the motion was unanimously passed. Mr. Montgomery read aloud the Resolution.
4. Monthly Update: Fees for Legal Service Provided to SFD from April 2011 to Current.
Mr. Montgomery stated he did not receive updated legal bills for the month of May; Ms. Greer stated the Board’s packets included a spreadsheet with fees to date; he then said for the month of May, Ridenour, Hienton & Lewis charged $2,887.29; Amy Liebermann, $900; and Freedlander PA, $1,910.50, the last two were related to the Fire Chief Search Committee. He said as of today’s date, there should be no more charges from the Ridenour firm.
E. Staff Reports.
1. Monthly Staff Report – Fire Chief Kris Kazian.
Chief Kazian presented the monthly Fire Chief’s report with detailed information regarding response times and station calls; the month of May was busy with 368 calls, up 42 calls from April. He reported two significant fire incidents in May; on May 8th, SFD received a call for a residential assignment at 4:07 AM for Captain Ralph Kurtz’s crew, who reported a 100 foot column of flames as they were responding; units arrived with times given in the monthly report and on arrival, crews found a fully-involved home; crews stopped the exposure to that structure; during the incident, crews received a report of individuals trapped inside, and with the extreme fire conditions, that created a scary moment; however, the report proved to be untrue. Crews worked this fire throughout the night and into the morning.
On May 25, 2012, SFD responded to a working fire on Beaver Street in the VOC, and over 300 emergency calls were received by dispatch about the fire. Crews from Station 3 responded immediately with the first engine on scene in 5 minutes and 12 seconds; crews were initially dispatched to 90 Beaver Street, but with 40 mile-per-hour winds, flames blew across to the next street, Ocotillo Drive; because Station 4 in Uptown’s crew was on a patient hike-out in Oak Creek Canyon and unable to respond, the second engine was, coincidentally, also Captain Kurtz’s crew from Station 1 in West Sedona; it took them 22 minutes to arrive at the fire because of the travel distance. Chief Kazian stated some people on Beaver Street expressed concern about the length of time it took the engine to arrive; however, critical to note, it took 5 minutes and 12 seconds for the first engine to arrive. He said the ladder truck from West Sedona, a large vehicle which had to go through all the roundabouts, took 30 minutes to respond to the Beaver Street side of the fire and provided an extremely aggressive fire attack and kept it from spreading to more homes in the neighborhood; both of the initial homes, which were fully involved in flames prior to SFD’s arrival, were a complete loss, but crews saved the neighbor’s house, as well as potentially many other downwind homes.
Chief Kazian was the incident commander of the fire, and noted that Nazih Hazime acting as the Fire Chief of the Verde Valley Fire District responded as he was driving home to Sedona; they integrated as two Chief Officers and Chief Hazime was assigned to handle operations on the Ocotillo side of the fire; Assistant Chief Keller was assigned an operational position. Chief Kazian reported it was a very hot day, several firefighters needed IVs to keep going, and our crews were worked to the fullest of their abilities. He said giving these details shows how busy our organization is and how long these calls keep our crews on scene.
Mr. Montgomery stated he believes this fire illustrates our need for apparatus in the Chapel area and the great response from the VOC station crew; however, if Station 3 had been on a medical or rescue call, it would have been 20+ minutes before the first engine arrived and we would have lost more than two homes. Chief
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Kazian said there is a fundraiser for the fire victims next week on Tuesday, June 19th at the Outlet Stores in the VOC. Mrs. Schoen asked if we would need to post a notice if more than two of the Board Members attended the fundraiser; Mr. Montgomery replied a “courtesy” notice of quorum should be posted.
Chief Kazian asserted the national standard is to have companies on the scene in four minutes and eight minutes, which he provided in the report; there are some “0s” in those columns because it is very difficult for SFD to meet those standards based on travel times in the district; he added 15 minutes as an arbitrary number to track how many firefighters we could have available in 15 minutes to make a possible difference in the outcome; during his short tenure at SFD, he knows people are needed right away and that 8 minute mark is “pushing it”.
He had planned to give the update about the four calls received in 17 minutes on Sunday during this report, but upon Mrs. Schoen’s request, provided those earlier in the meeting. He stated Verde Valley Ambulance Company and Cottonwood Fire Department sent units to cover SFD stations while all our units were responding to those calls.
2. Wildland Update: Wildland Deployment.
Last month, Battalion Chief Jayson Coil gave a presentation about the wildland team and Gladiator Fire; he is happy to report all those firefighters are back safely and did a great job. After 14 day deployments for personnel, SFD will receive $20,000.
Mr. Montgomery asked if that was “cost recoupment or revenue”; Chief Kazian responded, “that’s revenue”. He reported, however, some crew members and apparatus have been deployed again to fires including Chief Coil to the Little Bear Fire in Ruidoso, New Mexico; another firefighter is at the White Water-Baldy complex near Gila. He stated this year’s fire conditions are “tenuous”.
3. May Financial Report.
There were no questions from the Board regarding the Financial Report.
4. Fire Marshal’s Safety Message.
Fire Marshal Gary Johnson “tagged on” to what Mr. Jennings talked about in the importance of early-start CPR for victim survival; he stated “hands only” CPR is easy to learn and makes a difference in saving lives; he said the PulsePoint proposal addresses the gap that occurs from the time a cardiac arrest is witnessed until crews arrive.
Fire Marshal Johnson said our community has experienced the success of bystander “hands only” CPR.
The meeting adjourned at 6:45 PM.
Corrie Cooperman, Clerk of the Board:tg