Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mary Schuh Has Many Questions On NWFD/GRFD Merger Talks--What About The Answers???

If there is one person we trust to keep a lookout for the Taxpayers Of Pima County, it is, without doubt, our friend Mary Schuh.

Mary puts out the monthly newsletter on behalf of Pima Association of Taxpayers

Mary gave us permission to post the list of questions she has concerning the announcement of talks between NWFD & GRFD. It behooves all of us to read the list.


There are those who do not understand the concerns about the Special Board meeting and agenda for the Northwest Fire District Governing Board called for November 30, 6 pm, at the Wade Road Training Center, Marana.

**The agenda was being sent for notice just before 4 pm on November 25: the eve before a major holiday and holiday weekend. Timing is always questionable for such behavior?

The agenda for a Special Meeting is usually used for an Emergency item? So what is the emergency here?

The agenda lists a TWO BOARD MEETING to be set. Is that the one rumored to be DECEMBER 4 up in Oro Valley area? But there doesn’t seem to be an Emergency of Golder Ranch Board yet posted upon last check of their website? So when are they, or did they, agree with a quorum on this status? Which board members of each group have been involved behind the scenes planning this—if other board members knew how were they told and when?

In fact, checking agendas of the last board meetings for each of those entities when was this subject discussed—on what agenda and when? November 17 meeting for NWFD board had no such item with discussion and board direction to the Chief or personnel to begin talks about such a plan. Golder Ranch meeting November 20 had no such item or board direction to have such discussion.

SO WHEN DID THESE DISCUSSIONS HAPPEN? Who was present? How many board members? When did they vote, with a quorum, in public, to proceed to put this into an agenda item? Why is Golder Ranch, in the process of hiring a new chief with Chief John Fink’s retirement looming, involving itself in such a thing? Why is Chief Fink involved since he is retiring?

Who is absorbing whom? Whose board would prevail? Why is this necessary? Whose debt needs to be absorbed? Whose growth to be paid for? Who will keep their job? Who has the fiscal woes and needs shoring up? NWFD board meetings have heard time and time again from the Chief and cohorts that they need to find new revenue sources and “we need the money” when applying for grants.

If the usual blather about Economy of Scale comes up—have four words for that: Tucson Unified School District! Economy of Scale propaganda rhetoric went out with high button shoes. It cannot even be debated seriously when applied to out of control growth and loaded fiscal personnel and benefit obligation organizations, especially with unions involved and entitlement cultures.

Picture Rocks Fire District broke off talks with NWFD as they wanted to keep their CON (Certificate of Necessity) which is for ambulances. Their tax rate is $3.25/$100 and they saw no advantage of absorbing NWFD fiscal irresponsibility in greed not need or losing their boundaries and independence.

So WHY THE SUDDEN RUSH TO THESE DISCUSSIONS WITH THE HOLIDAYS? Well, they hope everyone is too busy to read the statutes on merger and consolidation and what can happen to you. Golder Ranch is supposed to have made an agreement through Oro Valley and went out to people to sign annexation petitions as their fire service. It would appear there is no honor in their promises if they can betray you in this manner?

NWFD has always had a problem with the truth and money management, programs and personnel overload. That is no secret to anyone.




Conny said...

Let's not get our panties in a knot before the facts are discussed at a PUBLIC meeting.

NWF meets Monday. There will be a PUBLIC decision made at that time if they want to proceed with a serious consideration of merging with Golder Ranch.

The Golder Ranch board is elected by the voters who live within the fire district. This board also determines the rates we all pay.

I THINK, although I'm not 100% sure, that the GRFD board is subject to the same open meeting laws as our Town Council.

Christopher Fox said...

Boy, I love Mary for being the bulldog on waste that she is (and I have never met her,) but goodness I wish she had a proof-reader for her stuff! It is always a struggle trying to figure out if things like "Timing is always questionable for such behavior?" are meant to mean a rhetorical question, or some other subtle emphasis. Oh well....

artmarth said...

Christopher--- My apologies. Mary sent me this via email and I asked if she would allow me to post it for a wider consumption.

I could have edited it, but did not.

The point on "Timing is always questionable for such behavior," I'm sure was meant to be a statement.

Mary's response---

Probably isn't the greatest piece of writing--rambling and long but you're welcome to it-the questions are just popping into people's minds--have no answers but do believe taxpayers have a right to answers.Everyone should go into statutes on special districts--scroll down to Fire districts and read one on mergers and one on consolidation--this is no little deal.

Conny said...

Before jumping to any conclusions I believe everyone needs to be informed and willing to listen to both sides.

The public meetings will answer some questions and surely create more questions.

From Northwest Fire District website,
I found the following information:

Merger vs. Consolidation in a Nutshell

Merger is when two districts come together and become one new district. (A + B = C)

Consolidation is one district absorbing the other district. (A + B = Bigger A)

Merger can be by unanimous action of both boards or by election of the voters of both districts.

Links for Arizona Revised Statutes are provided
Regarding fire district merger
Regarding fire district consolidation

-----Also read ARS 48-805 and Title 36

The public study session will be this friday.

artmarth said...

Conny is certainly correct on the merger/consolidation point.

Please read the following:

On 1/24/2008 Picture Rocks Fire District (PRFD) received correspondence from Northwest Fire District (NWFD) Fire Chief Jeff Piechura which initiated discussions and study by both districts on the pros and cons of either merging or consolidating our two districts.

Please click on the other web pages (left column) for specific information. Below is general information about merger, consolidation, and their differences.

Merger vs. Consolidation in a Nutshell

Merger is when two districts come together and become one new district. (A + B = C)

Consolidation is one district absorbing the other district. (A + B = Bigger A)

Merger can be by unanimous action of both boards or by election of the voters of both districts.

Now read this:

At its September 10, 2009, regular meeting the Picture Rocks Fire District (PRFD) Governing Board voted unanimously to end all further study and talks with Northwest Fire District regarding a possible merger or consolidation. The Governing Board did not feel comfortable with the issue of retaining the ambulance service's Certificate of Necessity (CON) should there be a merger or consolidation.

The Arizona Department of Health Services issues CONs which gives ambulance services the right to operate in a specified geographical area. Currently, the CON for our area is issued to PRFD. The laws and rules are not clear as to whether or not the PRFD CON would be transferable to a merged or consolidated entity. If the CON was not transferable, PRFD would forfeit its CON if it merged or consolidated with Northwest Fire District, making it available to other ambulance services. The Governing Board felt this uncertainty made it unwise to proceed any further with merger/consolidation study and discussions regarding both the ambulance and fire service.

There is a lot of "behind the scenes" going on with these NWFD/GRFD talks, and it "ain't" good for OV citizens!

Conny said...


How do you know if this is good or bad for Oro Valley?

artmarth said...

What I know is this:
1) When GRFD took over the RMFD subscribers, the rate for the service escalated, in some some cases 300% or more.

Speaking for myself, our rates went up substantially, and I gained absolutely nothing, but a higher fire service bill.

2) NWFD is notoriously high for their fire service. Higher than GRFD by about 40%, not to mention the bonds they have out to help pay off their new stations.

So--- adding #i to #2, I come up with #3---a good deal for NWFD & GRFD. A bad deal for OV homeowners.

Nombe Watanabe said...

If it is going to increase my taxes, I don't want it.

What is wrong with these people, why do they keep increasing costs in the midst of a recession?

GRFD is wildly expensive just as it is. We do not need a new, more expensive Fire Department. We do not need higher taxes or a property tax.

We need government to cut costs and try to save some money.

artmarth said...

Nombe--- The safest three words in Oro Valley are "No Property Tax."

I'm not sure if there are many citizens that would want that, especially now.

My point is only this:

I would be happier with a property tax in LIEU of any merger or consolidation that would raise our fire service bills even more than they are now.

As I noted, as a former Rural Metro customer, with GRFD, thousands of our OV neighbors experienced what we did----a dramatic cost increase with no increase whatsoever in our service.

Now, there's talk about NWFD & GRFD and "consolidation." That will not bode well for OV citizens.

If your tax bill was to have an OV Property Tax for the equivalent amount you would be paying to a Fire District, would that be a problem?

Sure, property taxes can go up (or down)---but so can fire service bills, as we all know.

I'd just as soon keep our dollars in Oro Valley---not Marana, Catalina, Saddlebrooke, etc.

donjon5194 said...

Hi Art,

You are paying for what you are actually receiving, service! Many Oro Valley residents opted NOT to pay Rural/Metro subscriptions for fire service. They are the real folks that are paying more in their taxes, because they chose not to participate in "public safety".

What would combining of Northwest and Golder bring?:

How about continuity of service! One fire agency with greater depth in resources and know-how to give us what we need, city style services, not rural style.

How about gaining more information about what a combined fire department looks like before the rash decision making occurs?


donjon5194 said...

Wow, Mary is indeed pasionate about government waste! It also looks like she enjoys bashing instead fact finding. It looks more like throwing a handfull of little pebbles hoping to hit something. If more time was spent on fact-finding instead of casting dispersions (or pebbles), more balanced information might come forward for all to view and respect.