Thursday, December 17, 2009

What's Going On With Mountain Vista Fire District?

Through the yeoman efforts of our friend Phil Richardson, MVFD recently completed the annexation of our OV neighbors in the southern tier, north to Hardy road.

Phil attended the MVFD Board meeting on Dec 14.

What he found leads one to ask: "What's going on with Mountain Vista Fire District?"

Learning that some heavy spending was contemplated at the one year old Mountain Vista Fire District which will affect property owners, 2400 of whom live in Oro Valley, Phil writes the following:

Suddenly rich in a time of wanting

If your eyes are beginning to glaze over from trying to watch what masquerades as humor on TV, you can have a pulse pounding experience most any month by attending the meeting of any nearby Fire District Board and watch your money stimulate the economy at a breath-taking rate. There are 17 Fire Districts in Pima County, collecting from as much as a million, two hundred thousand dollars from tax-paying constituents in one Fire District alone – and as far as I know, only one of them, Northwest Fire District, has a volunteer monitor by the name of Mary Schuh keeping an eye on their spending. Mrs. Schuh is the taxpayer’s friend.

Since I was recently involved in supporting an annexation of my neighborhood this year into the newly-minted Mountain View Fire District, I attended a meeting of their Board on December 14. I was the only member of the public present. I went away with sugar plums dancing in my head. These folk are intent on bolstering the economy, come what may. They’ve evidently never heard that we were in a severe recession or that the City of Tucson is groaning over the prospect of laying-off 100 fire-fighters and 100 police.

It seems that Mountain Vista feels the urgent need for two, maybe three fire stations, plus an administration suite for the fledgling outfit. They plan to quit the station leased by Rural Metro Corporation on Magee Road near North Oracle for more comfortable digs nearby in a year or so, despite the fact that the lease on the old fire house runs through 2013 and there is opportunity for two 5-year extensions there.

This new fire-fighting edifice will be the second fire station for MountainVista. They plan to break ground for a new one near Shannon and Overton come next month.

The real stunner was the speculation on the purchase of not one, but two fire engines for $870,00 even though it will be up to two years before finding both a home.

Nevertheless, the Chairperson and Directors of Mountain Vista FD are poised to dip into their rainy day fund.

Of all quasi-governmental bodies, Fire Districts like to fly under the radar screen more than any other. The Administrator of this one was so successful, that two of the five Directors knew nothing of the proposed fire engine purchase.

Either they slow down or else they too will soon come begging for a bail-out.


OV Objective Thinker said...

Mr. Richardson makes my point that there are far too many fire districts and too many fire agencies in Pima County.

LomaAlta said...

This was entirely predictable. The idea of going to a new fire district with nothing but a name and an inherited Rural Metro station was a bad idea from the start. Worse, with property tax limitations a distinct possibility, Mountain Vista will do everything they can to raise tax assessments before the deadline.
The decision to go with Mountain Vista was a bad decision, but as in Washngton, DC, it seems there is no way to get citizen input to the decisions. A few activists and a special interest group (MV Fire) rammed the change through. But, Mr. Richardson was warned that this would happen; he chose not to listen.

OV Objective Thinker said...

Loma et al....

I believe Mr. Richardson is an honorable gentleman but he fell victim, in my opinion, to the same disease that infected others including the blog masta. He allowed his bitterness toward Golder Ranch to get in the way of reasoned, in-depth thinking. Now whether that was of his own doing or if he was urged along by the maniacal thinking trends of others I don't know. But I do know that many of their judgements in the area of fire protection have been incorrect. In the case of one person, his comments have been not only uninformed but in some cases nothing but lies.

But Loma, I would like you opinion on my position that we have far too many fire agencies in Pima County and that we may be better served with one to serve the metro Tucson and allow Rural Metro to reengage in their primary business plan which was to serve the rural areas?

artmarth said...

To Our Readers---especially those that signed the MVFD annexation petition---

Phil Richardson had only one thought in attempting to bring MVFD into the southern tier of Oro Valley.

That ONE ISSUE was his safety and the safety of his thousands of neighbors.

It was proven that GRFD could NOT service many of its customers in the time-frame mandated ---which is 6 minutes, 90% of the time.

Phil had a commitment from the MVFD folks that they would be servicing the OV community from the existing fire station at Oracle & Magee.

Shortly after the completion of the annexation, it appears that MVFD personnel might renege on that commitment even though the station could be utilized through 2023.

If anyone wants to fault Phil on his efforts on behalf of all others, blame him for only one thing: Accepting the word of others as being truthful.

Those that chastise Phil have their own agenda, and it does not serve the best interests of the community.

Phil Richardson said...

I never have been "bitter" about Golder Ranch Fire Distrct's ertwhile strangle-hold on prior Oro Valley Town Councils. I have always said that John Fink and GRFD is one of the most professional organizations I have encountered in my long experience. However, the rates they demand and the money they've borrowed (to be paid off by taxpayers) could only be justified by their need for capital for the expansion that will utimately unfold to the north of Oro Valley - to their benefit. Since cows and coyotes don't pay taxes, Golder Ranch Fire District needs more of our tax dollars than other districts.
Even more important to my neighbors and me is the fact that due to GRFD policies that forbade the leasing of the current Fire Station just seconds away from us was the over-riding reason for our supporting Mountain Vista and their promise to keep a station nearby. I am hopefull that this can still be accomplished.

tetsua-san said...

I heard the proposal from the Chief was turned down by the Board because they didn't know where the money was coming from?

Kudos to Mr. Richardson but I think its a little early to write about the purchasing of new fire trucks when it was turned down.

Love this blog, keep up the good work!

artmarth said...

tetsua-san---Thanks for the acknowledgment, and thanks for the "kudos" to Phil Richardson.

It is our understanding that MVFD has scheduled another Board meeting for tomorrow night to discuss, among other things, the purchase of $900,000 worth of fire engines, ostensibly because more stringent emission tests go into effect on Jan 1, 2010 that will raise prices.

Is that a good enough reason to spend taxpayers money, especially since those new customers in OV won't be contributing to MVFD for some months?

I'm sorry I don't have more info on the MVFD meeting. Those interested can call them at 575-4087. The MVFD web site offers no info.