By Mike Schroeder, Sedona Resident
(October 27, 2017)
The group, that is promoting the $17.9 Million Sedona Fire District Bond, “Safer Sedona” is a PAC (Political Action Committee) that is called “Sedona Advocates For Emergency Responders”. The only two people that are on the Committee for this PAC are Wendy Tanzer and Rich Collister according to the public records available from Yavapai County Committee Statement of Organization, dated April 12, 2017.
While I am not surprised, I am curious who set them up as the local front people for this assault on the hard-working Taxpayers of the Sedona Fire District (SFD) in ramming this $17.9 million bond down our throats, especially with huge building cost projections with $3 Million in contingencies. How convenient.
According to the 2017 Third Quarter Yavapai Report, August 13 to September 30, 2017, CORPORATIONS and LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANIES have contributed the full amount of the revenue for Sedona Advocates for Emergency Responders PAC of $17,750. The total of $17,750 came from only 7 companies, no individuals, ALL in the Construction or sub-contractor business in Phoenix, AZ.
Could it be that Phoenix contractors have their eye on roughly $14 million in contracts in Sedona, AZ? Is there a reason why our more than competent local contractors cannot build a fire station IF one is needed? Is it a coincidence that Core Construction is the company who came up with the plans for the $5.7 MILLION cost AND plans for station #4? Was the Sedona District Fire Board aware of the financial influence of Phoenix construction companies in coming up with huge numbers like $5.7 and $3 MILLION for stations, plus $1.5 MILLION for a service facility? I don’t know. CORE CONSTRUCTION, INC, on Greenway Road in Phoenix was the largest contributor with $9,500, AND was the company who wrote the proposal for ALL the construction projects, including the tear down od Station #4, coincidence? Did the Fire Board knowingly bury the architectural and structural report that they ordered and paid for on Station #4 because the report stated that the building could be renovated?
Is there a reason why a Phoenix construction company and a list of sub-contractors that are probably affiliated with Core Construction as subcontractors would want to influence the Little Sedona Fire District bond vote? I can, off the top of my head, think of about 14 million of them.
This should be an affront to every voter in the Sedona Fire District. Trying to persuade YOU to vote YES while licking their chops for juicy contracts coming their way from the high country in Sedona down to the Valley in Phoenix. Is it no wonder why SFD wants to abandon a perfectly good station up in Oak Creek Canyon? Demolish station #4 when structural reports say a remodel will work? They are not crumbling folks, that’s the fairy tale to build more monuments to Chief Kazian like Station #6. It’s only your money, so why should they be concerned?
To the citizens and voters of this district, if there was EVER a reason to vote NO on this Bond, AND to question the competency of the existing Fire Board, three of which are up for re-election in 2018, it is NOW.
The Yavapai County Reports are available for you to review on www.arizonaliberty.us
It is time the we ALL stand up for a fiscally responsible Fire District that supports OUR first responders and the people that they protect. The Board, the Management…Time to go.
Excellent research on the PAC money. Something smells.
I cannot speak to Station 4 needing to be re built or renovated but, the station in the Canyon has to be moved. The District was ordered by the Garland family who owns the land to move ASAP. So if that is true the District has no choice in moving that station and I did hear it would be next to Slide Rock State Park if possible. I received your card you mailed and did object to a lot of that spending aside from the bond. Of course we have to spend money for the new station in the Canyon as that is inescapable but, not seventeen million in new spending. Just wish to ad that our firemen are the greatest and I speak from experience. The big spender in Sedona is City Hall. They are building an Empire. The bond would increase our property taxes while the City wants an increase in the sales tax and has plans to spend additional millions on projects that will not ease traffic problems since City Hall wants every tourist they can find.
The Garland family has not ordered the station to be abandoned, and they do not own 100% of the land that the station sits on. If you check the Coconino county assessors office using their interactive map, you will see that the Garland Land is a huge parcel with a tiny bit where the station is, and that SFD does own part of the land.
The other problem is that SFD is wanting to build a station in Slide Rock State Park, and the Park does not want it, AND there is a covenant that goes along with that land as it was donated to the state for use as a park ONLY. Any other use must be approved by the state legislature.
The right way to get better coverage is to put a pumper tank engine in station 7 up the canyon that currently sits empty, and get the volunteers back on line. The union forced that to be curtailed in the early 2000s. That is unacceptable. Bad Board direction and bad management. We intend to address that also.
You are correct, the firemen are not the issue, it is how they are being managed. That starts at the Board and flows though the Chief. When you look at the snow cat in the station on Red Lock Loop Road, and see that they want another one, and Flagstaff has none, a red flag should go up. When you look at Station 8, and the mess it is in and then see they want to build a maintenance facility when they have an empty bay on 89A in station 8, you have to ask who is running things and why are the taxpayers not being represented by the current board.
Citizen involvement is critical, and we appreciate your comments and that you are paying attention to what is going on in our town. Thank you.
Thanks for the correction on the Garland land. That was information given to me by someone in the fire district. I did not say they thought of putting the new station inside Slide Rock Park but, near it. I will pass on your information to the person who misinformed me. I doubt we could return to the days of volunteer firemen. I have lived here for 38 years and recall those days but, Sedona was different then. Terry Keller was one of the great volunteers and should have been given the job of fire chief . He is now Chief for Lake Montezuma, Rimrock and Camp Verde. I knew some of the volunteers and the search and rescue volunteers and it was a huge thing when a new Chief came in and did away with them. I do not think many businesses in Sedona today would tolerate an employee getting a phone call and running out to a fire. I witnessed that several times when in Valley National Bank (then became Bank One then Chase and moved to West Sedona) on Jordan Road. I am sorry we ever incorporated. Thanks for the correction and information, I appreciated it. Joan Shannon
I think there is a place for volunteers, and there is no reason except the union does not like it. One of those places, would be up the Canyon where almost no calls happen, but with the proper structure the ISO rating could come down giving folks a break on their insurance. It used to be a hybrid system.
We were in Aspen a couple of months ago. Nice equipment and stations, all volunteers except for a couple of folks. I do not think we are there in our District, but thinking outside the box sure can solve a lot of issues and benefit the district as well as the residents. Thanks for your comments.
Wow, what a racket! The company that bids the work, funds the campaign to hoodwink tax payers into approving the “necessary” work for the “crumbling” fire stations. It is such a shame that the good honest working folk at SFD are tarnished by the shenanigans of the fire board.
Holly, unfortunately it is not just the board, the Chief was involved in the May 2, 2017 meeting, the meeting notes are available for viewing here. Copy and paste into browser:
The meeting notes link are on the bottom of the page. It is pretty obvious that the board is taking the direction from the Phoenix contractor.
Mr. Schroeder, said
The right way to get better coverage is to put a pumper tank engine in station 7 up the canyon that currently sits empty, and get the volunteers back on line
why does Mike think he’s an expert on all things to do with city government fire departments management and financing .The idea of a volunteer fire department in the canyon is idiotic especially for those of us that have property up here,the last huge fire we had that took weeks to put out started a the east end of slide rock park.people you need to question Mr. Schroeder‘s ethics and the reason he is attacking good people with false information from my experience we need to look at the person making the accusations.
It used to be volunteers running the station Mr. Segner. But you never a met a big government or big tax that you didn’t embrace if it benefited you personally.
Steve, It was Joan who reminisced about volunteer fire fighters. I can’t find a reference to volunteers other than Joan’s comment.
So when you don’t have a valid response you bluster, distract and do a character assassination? Gee, where have I seen that before?
Why do you have to get nasty? Something stinks in this and as taxpayers we have a right to know whats going on.
Thanks for your great research Mike!
There is a very interesting PENDING request for legal opinion that was filed with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, pertaining to questions regarding the legality of Yavapai County fire districts’ property tax utilization, entitled, “Validity of the Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority Joint Powers Agreement”. The purpose of the request is to determine if local fire district property taxes in Yavapai ounty are being utilized APPROPRIATELY in compliance with Arizona state laws.
The request for the AG’S opinion was filed by the AZ House of Representatives on May 24, 2017, and signed by Noel Campbell and David Stringer.
A link to the .pdf letter from the House of Representatives asking for Opinion No: R17-011, “Validity of the Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority Joint Powers Agreement” is provided below:
October 30, 2017
Mr. Ty Montgomery
Governing Board Member
Sedona Fire District
2860 Southwest Drive Sedona, Arizona 86336
Dear Mr. Montgomery
On behalf of Sedona Fire District taxpayers, Arizona Liberty is filing a formal complaint against the Sedona District Fire Governing Board and specifically Board Member Tim Ernster, who served as chairman of the SFD Citizens’ Advisory Committee, for collusion, conflict of interest and attempting to influence the outcome of the Sedona Fire District bond election.
We also call into question the relationship between Sedona Fire District Chief Kris Kazian, Sedona Advocates for Emergency Responders Political Action Committee (PAC), SFD Citizens’ Advisory Committee Member Wendy Tanzer and Core Construction and six other Phoenix-based construction companies, which to date have contributed $17,750 to the PAC. They appear to be part of a coordinated media campaign promoting the bond at the expense of Sedona Fire District taxpayers.
A review of the SFD Citizens’ Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes, dated May 2, 2017, reveals the following:
VII. Presentation/Discussion – General overview of the process once election is called (Captain David Rodriguez)
Captain Rodriguez was unable to attend today’s meeting; Firefighter Greg Eberlein spoke on Captain Rodriguez’s behalf. He said the mission of this committee is to evaluate SFD’s current and future capital needs, determine what financial methods meet those needs, and make a recommendation to give to the Fire Board. After that, if the Board decides to go forward with the bond proposal, a Political Action Committee (PAC) could be formed to promote the bond; there are many issues involved in an election, and PACs would fundraise for pamphlets, handouts, or ads in newspapers to endorse the bond. However, the fire district can only speak to factual items – not endorsements.
Firefighter Eberlein said he believes Chief Kazian felt some pressure to come up with an estimated figure of what would be needed to cover capital needs, and $15 million was thrown out; he said his personal concern is if we now go and ask for $18 Million or more, citizens will wonder why. Mrs. Maxwell asked how many people can be on a PAC; Firefighter Eberlein stated he believed as many as would like to participate; Wendy Tanzer is absent from today’s meeting, but he said she is very knowledgeable about PACs as she has worked on campaigns in the past. Chief Kazian commented he tried very hard to not “pigeonhole” an estimated number and that $15 Million was just a starting point for discussion; at the time, he did not know what construction costs would be and his message has been that if it became a different number, the facts are what they are.
A review of the Yavapai County Campaign Finance Report for the period August 13, 2017 to September 30, 2017 for Sedona Advocates for Emergency Responders reveals contributions of $9,500 from the same Core Construction, which provided construction cost estimates to the SFD Citizens’ Advisory Committee and the Governing Board and may benefit financially should the $18 million bond issue pass.
As elected Governing Board Members, you serve as the Sedona Fire District taxpayers’ advocates. Clearly the Governing Board has violated the trust placed in it by District taxpayers. You have been willing participants in a scheme to mislead and manipulate District taxpayers into believing that they must vote for the bond issue.
Please be advised that Arizona Liberty will take all appropriate actions against the Sedona Fire District, its Governing Board, Sedona Advocates for Emergency Responders Political Action Committee, and Core Construction should the bond issue pass.
There is an interesting legal opinion request from the House of Representatives, signed by Noel Campbell and David Stringer, pending at the Arizona Attorney General’s Office questioning how budgets can be established to determine appropriate Fire Districts’ tax levies at local fire districts in Yavapai County, and the use of Yavapai County property taxes for the Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority at::