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Montezuma Rimrock Fire District Voter Override

MRFD First Responders in action

Sedona AZ (September 10, 2012) – In order to prevent lay-offs of up to fifty per cent (50%) of its current first-response personnel, the Montezuma Rimrock Fire District (MRFD) is seeking voter approval for an “OVERRIDE” on the November 6, 2012 election ballot.

Like so many other rural fire districts, the Montezuma Rimrock Fire District fiscal woes started at the beginning of what economists call “the worst financial crisis this country has endured since the Great Depression” and accelerated in direct proportion to the gut-wrenching decline in property values that most have witnessed – and endured – since 2008.

Fire district revenue is generated through property tax. A “multiplier” (the mill levy) is applied to assessed property values located within each district to determine property owners share to fund its fire district. When a fire district’s assessed property values depreciate at a rate of 20% a year for over three years, it’s easy to understand how a value-dependent public service entity can be so suddenly, dramatically and negatively impacted.

Mere “belt-tightening” is no longer enough. Though MRFD management has eliminated all non-essential expenditures from its budget, allowed vacant positions to remain unstaffed, provided only a single three per cent (3%) cost-of-living salary increase to staff in three years, suspended longevity pay and laid-off one firefighter, the decline in fire district revenue is simply too overwhelming to sustain services at its current level.

Montezuma Rimrock Fire District running out of money

From a single MRFD station, twelve first-responders (four to each of three shifts) cover fifty five square miles – including an eighteen mile stretch of Arizona Interstate 17 (I-17). MRFD staffs one ambulance and one engine, responds to over 1,000 emergency calls a year, and provides professional emergency services – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year – doing what a fire district is supposed to do.

Without a voter-approvedOVERRIDEfully one-half of MRFD first-response personnel may be laid-off. This gap in MRFD trained, professional staff could result in outside agencies responding to local emergencies, increasing response times to potentially life-threatening levels. Additionally, it’s very likely citizens will be billed for the cost of every emergency response – ranging from house fires to snake removal.

A “YES” vote will allow the MRFD to maintain (not increase) its current revenue level while actually reducing the dollar amount paid by residents. That’s right, Montezuma Rimrock Fire District property owners will be paying less in taxes than last year.

A “YES” vote will ensure MRFD essential emergency services in reasonable response times, and, the policy of not billing community members for ambulance services will continue, uninterrupted.

In the daily financial crunch we are all facing, it appears a MRFD voter override “YES” vote is a win-win situation for everyone.


Article written by Wendy Tanzer, exclusive to the SedonaEye.com c2012 and Sedona Times Publishing c2012 and IMOSedona columnist. Follow SedonaEye.com writers on Facebook@SedonaTimes and Twitter.com/SedonaTimes and subscribe now for the free Sedona Eye eBlast of each week’s top ten stories. Follow the Eye!


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  1. D. Heguy says:

    To maintain your level of protection, and maybe save a life, you will never find a better deal! If someone tries to convince you otherwise, make them convince you with facts on how they will protect you with one half the resources. Vote smart and support the override.

  2. Glenn says:

    I see no problem with supporting the fire department, but have a problem with them claiming you would pay less in taxes. You can’t pass an over ride and pay less taxes, that is impossible. Just think it would be nice if people would plead their case and no be dishonest with their statements.

  3. I don’t debate the need for the support of the fire department just the problem when they state if you vote for the override you won’t pay more taxes. You can’t have it both ways of increasing money available for the fire department and not raising taxes.

  4. Don says:

    they need the money

  5. Wendy Tanzer says:

    Hello again, Glenn….

    Instead of endlessly arguing the point, I will illustrate how the REAL numbers work:

    Assessed property value, four years ago: $300,000.00. The same property after a 20% decline three years in a row is now valued at: $153,600.00. That number is reached using the following:

    A property assessed at $300,000 – less 20% the first year becomes $240,000.00; less another 20% the second year becomes $192,000.00; less another 20% the third year brings the current property value down to $153,600.00. With me so far? Any questions?

    The current mill levy is $3.25 on $1,000.00 in property value.

    So the owner of that $300,000.00 house paid $975.00 in Fire District tax dollars three years ago.

    The “OVERRIDE” allows only a 5% annual increase in the mill levy – bringing the approved override levy to: $3.4125 per $1,000.00 in property value. Still there? Following along?

    So a current value of $153,600.00 x the override mill levy amount of 3.4125% means the owner of that same property will now be paying only $524.16, annually. That’s a SUBSTANTIAL DECREASE of $450.84 in actual taxes, Glenn.

    So…while the AMOUNTS may change per individual property, THE FORMULA IS THE SAME – and the net tax dollar amount paid by every homeowner – even WITH the override – is in fact, “LESS TAXES” as you put it.

    The numbers don’t lie, Glenn – and neither do I. I’m sure the people within the Montezuma Rimrock Fire District whose lives will be directly impacted by the outcome of this override vote, appreciate your agreeing the District NEEDS the revenue.

  6. Wendy I supported the need so don’t need any of your so called intelligent comments which of course are not. The trouble I have always had with any government agency is when an income for the public goes down we have to spend more wisely. On the other hand when the income goes down for the government they just can’t do with less. When times got tough it seems the government can find some ways to cut spending.

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