By Bob and Karen Hatler, Sedona Residents
(October 12, 2017)
We have seen numerous presentations with lots of numbers to describe past, current and planned expenditures for Sedona Fire District (SFD). Are we missing the point with all those numbers? In reality, all of us simply need to live within our budget, including SFD.
SFD provides an important service and they do it well. As a tax-based entity, they are lucky to have a strong revenue stream that includes taxes collected from property owners, as well as alternate revenue sources, i.e., ambulance fees, facilities usage charges, wildland fire participation, grants. The Board’s primary responsibility is to maintain the fiduciary health of the organization. SFD, as a tax-based entity, is spending “other people’s money”, which deservedly creates more scrutiny than might be given to other businesses or organizations.
Finger-pointing at former Boards or chiefs isn’t productive. SFD refers to “need” yet how many are actually “wants”? We do not hear why they have not managed their expenditures within the confines of their revenues. All of us must live within the boundaries of our income, whether our family budget or a business we own or manage. The same is true for SFD.
Many items listed on the Bond are for routine maintenance and upkeep and should have been part of the budget, including station remodeling or renovation. One item asked for regarding replacement for the Uptown Station is funding to house the firefighters during the demolition and rebuilding. Why? There is sufficient property to re-locate the station, so they can stay right where they are while a new station is being built – and then the old one can come down.
The current claim is Sedona will be safer if we pass the Bond; that simply is not true. SFD is well equipped, better than most fire districts, and has a revenue stream that is more than sufficient for their needs. Even if they have to tighten their belts and do a bit more maintenance and drive their equipment a few more miles, and don’t remodel and re-arrange because they’d just like to, they will be responding to 911 calls with the equipment and tools to do the job.
Approving additional revenues, no matter the process, does not help the situation; it enables a continuing practice of spending more than is earned. It enables an organization to continue to make poor choices, or to refuse to suffer the consequences when they do. We expect professionalism and expertise from the medics and firefighters. We expect that same professionalism and expertise from the Board as they fulfill their fiduciary responsibility to balance the budget and live within its parameters. We should not further enable SFD by giving them an additional 17.9M with a Bond issue. Please vote “No”.
Sedona is more than protected by our SFD and we are in awe of their training, systems, and assistance during a crisis.
What has become an issue is their ability to remain objective about what is needed and what is wanted. We watched them build the station on SR179. A monument to themselves. Many of us questioned why, with the design, solar was not installed for a savings over the years.
Now, we are asked to approve a bond issue for $19M. $8M was budgeted at the same time and they did not have to ask for permission. In essence, we Sedonans are being asked to up our taxes $27M. Gee, I wish I could just decide I needed more money and have someone give it to me.
When bureaucrats spend OPM (other people’s money), where is the respect?
Thanks for the post. I will be a big NO vote.
Kathy Said;“When bureaucrats spend OPM (other people’s money), where is the respect”?
So Kathy, this is how you think?
Bureaucrats, people that work for all of us, are not up to your superior work standards…. and are a lesser form of life.
You know this because bureaucrats go to bad (state) colleges, their Master degrees are made up, and they go to work every day looking for ways to spend YOUR money and get off early.
Kathy, did you inspect the fire station up the canyon?
Do you know the terms of the lease, do you know the fire district only owns 1/2 the building?
Kathy, have you called the fire chief and asked to talk to him about any questions you have.
Well many of us have and we will vote YES. Only because we took the time to do our homework.
Kathy you said, “When bureaucrats spend OPM where is the respect?” Kathy where is your respect for hard working people that save lives every day and the fire board that manages them (elected, by the people by the way), and that put in thousands of hours and whose only real pay is grief.
The people of Sedona government and the Fire district are hard working and dedicated civil servants and you Kathy, are some how better? Harder working and smarter, well your comments don’t speak well to you intelligence.
When you make off hand statements with no facts, about complex problems it shows how shallow your mind really is, this is exactly why we now have a president that cannot read and was voted in on BS statements like yours.
WE all know this is a T party issue wanting the private sector to take over the Sedona emergency services…. And close the canyon station.
Kathy, minutes save lives, some day you will understand that as you are being loaded in the back of a private ambulance service.
Other then several paragraphs of personal attacks you did not disprove a single fact or statement made. But we are talking about math and not feelings, so this seems to conflict with your personal dogma.
I also may be showing my age but I was taught to treat others, especially women with respect.
You seem to a hate filled person for anyone or anything that is not what you wish.
Your attacks where unwarranted and almost disturbing in their vitriolic nature. You may wish to consider anger management therapy before you attempt to hurt others or get hurt yourself…
Being politically independent I get to laugh and make fun of both extreme’s of the Right & Left. You have shown your colors clearly, which is sad in a way. It just means you have stopped talking facts and people will not listen to any information and dare I say facts, you may have.
I came to read the Sedona Biz to educate myself on the issue.The fact that they allow you to continue to write on their website is a surprise to me. I for one will never vote with haters so thank you for making up my mind.
Your style of communication only divides further our fractured society.
You are part of the problem, not part of the solution.
The Hatler’s have hit the nail on the head! SFD does not understand the difference between WANT and NEED. There has been poor oversight of their use of equipment over the years and of course, excessive salaries. Nothing in the proposed bond issue will have anything to do with “safety” as is being promoted. Our tax bills already show a huge chunk being taken by SFD and the Board is not doing anything to protect us citizens from a blatant money grab. Taxes have increased dramatically over the past several years yet nothing has been spent on maintenance, etc. When a secretary is being paid over $100,000, something is definitely WRONG! The Board is overly sympathetic to the district instead of keeping the mil rate reasonable. With four tax bills to pay, I feel the pinch annually and am very well versed in the wasteful practices and salaries within the SFD. It could and should be a lot better!! Building $2.5M stations to answer an average of 4 calls per day is not the way to be fiscally prudent. 4 NO votes coming from us . . .
As I understand it, some of the items labeled “wants,” “unnecessary” and “routine maintenance” that should have been budgeted for previously have become more pressing because prior boards of directors “kicked the can down the road” rather than make unpopular calls back then.
Building maintenance and equipment costs will only go up, not down. Resistance to Station 6 was such that a station half the size was ultimately built at about the same cost as the larger one would have been had there not been such NIMBY delays.
Vote YES because we’ve been down this road before and learned that the more decay you permit, the costlier it is to fix when you later come to your senses. Be smart now.
If your growing child needed new shoes last year, but you put off buying them till this year, hoping your budget would be healthier, waiting till next year the shoe prices might be only a little higher, but other costs due to pain or accidents could have been completely avoided. Make the same kind of smart decision you would make in your own home if your roof were leaking.
wel said LIn
Bob, Karen and Kathy,
Thank you for you for your thoughtful comments.
Regarding Mr. Segner’s comments, please do not let those dissuade you from telling your friends, relatives and neighbors how you feel.
Of course our firefighters are committed to their profession, and the Sedona Fire District does have good equipment and facilities. We appreciate them and we pay for the service.
What we do not appreciate as taxpayers is the mismanagement of taxpayer dollars, especially when it comes to a balance of personnel and capital improvements and maintenance. The balance has been pretty much out of whack since Chief Kazian was hired by the board. And we cannot lay this at the Chief’s feet entirely, he is the CEO and answers to the Fire Board, none of which were elected for their current term. It is the Board who is responsible to the taxpayers not only financially but to make sure that the employees can do their job. It is always a balance, just because it is a public entity does not mean “do what you want with no accountability”.
I am not clear on what state colleges have to do with anything, the President or the comment about being loaded into a private ambulance service, such services are used all over the United States and work in conjunction with all the local Fire Departments.
We have been up to the facility in the Canyon, and why is owning 1/2 the property an issue we are not sure. We also went further up into the Canyon, to photo the fire house that is empty, and not being used. And the Firehouse on Red Rock Loop Road, which stores a Snow Cat on a trailer, in half the building. And we also went out to Station 8, out on 89A where the telecommunications equipment is. The place looks like a dump on the outside and the inside is not what you would call the best organized. Maybe it works, my question has the Board done an inspection and questioned what is going on? Or do they just rely on the Chief? The Board is supposed to be oversight, and not just financially.
And the biggest bogus claim is that Station 4, in uptown is structurally “unsafe” and has to be torn down and rebuilt. No it does not, and the Board has the report from the architectural firm with the opinion from a structural engineer that the station could use a remodel but there is nothing wrong structurally. That letter, which was submitted to the board is published on our website, the excerpts AND the entire report for anyone to read. That equates to 1/3 of the Bond Issue. It is an outright fabrication that the station needs replacing. Talk to a NYC fireman, they are in the same stations that their grandfathers worked in. You remodel, you update, you do not need another monument to yourself. This is not about leaving a legacy. These are workplaces, not shrines like we now have on SR179. Go to http://www.arizonaliberty.us if you want to see the report, or you can look at the ad we ran in the Red Rock News on Friday.
The overriding problem in Arizona is that we have over 150 fire districts, and that does no include fire Departments like the Phoenix Fire Dept etc. There was a reason for this a long time ago, and all or most of these districts were volunteer districts. Some of them still may be, I do not know, but most of them are like ours. We visited a very nice station in Colorado about two months ago, all new stuff, very impressive. Main tourist town, an all volunteer Dept. So their employee costs are substantially lower – big time.
To improve efficiency, what we would like to see is a County Fire Chief, and eliminate all the Districts. With multiple districts you have multiple fiefdoms with boards, often not qualified, building their own programs, or legacies, and losing the efficiency of size, in equipment, process, communications and management. The public elects the country Fire Chief, just like we elect our county Sheriff.
But that will have to wait but it is on the burner.
You are correct, it is very easy to spend other people’s money. That is what this is all about.
Our website has financial data complied from audited SFD statements. The people who are a part of http://www.arizonaliberty.us have extensive financial backgrounds in planning, executing and managing money, in the private sector and in the public sector.
Thanks for your support.
I wholeheartedly agree with the comment about Station 4 not needing to be totally rebuilt. I’ve been in it many times and never felt unsafe. Would we totally tear down our own home in a similar situation? I doubt it due to cost, but that doesn’t seem to bother the SFD because the vast majority of staff doesn’t live in the District and therefore are not affected by the mil rate. If the station is so structurally unsafe, WHY is a very expensive ladder truck parked inside daily? Gee, the building could fall on it if you believe the drivel being expounded by SFD. The board is basically a puppet for the SFD and certainly isn’t working in the interest of taxpayers . . . THAT needs to change soon!
The biggest joke is “Safer Sedona”. Who are they trying to kid? Nothing in the bond issue will have anything to do with “safety”. It is an emotional argument designed to pull the wool over the eyes of taxpayers while our wallets are emptied. Check the history of the SFD and you’d find that every structure that has burned in the District . . . has been destroyed instead of saved! So apparently it doesn’t matter how much equipment you have and how many staff members you have, fire still wins the day here! I don’t know of any other District or Fire Department with that record. The only thing “safer” will be the coffers of the SFD to continue to waste OPM – MY money!
Another observation of waste is there is a white battalion chief truck running around town with expensive custom black wheels. WHY were public funds spent on such a frivolous item??? Not only that, but SFD recently purchased a heavy duty 4×4 truck for use by Admin staff. What? A Ford focus or Toyota Prius would serve such a function very well for basic transportation, which I understand the need for. It seems that every new vehicle purchased by SFD has to be a super duty Ford 4×4 – no matter what the intended use is. These vehicles, while very nice for some purposes, are expensive to purchase and expensive to operate. But who cares? It is OPM after all!!
In the past, taxpayers have been paying for an employee to drive a SFD vehicle to and from Prescott daily because he was “on call” for maintenance! WHY could that employee not be directed to drive his own personal vehicle to and from any SFD station and pick up his taxpayer funded SFD vehicle there? When I asked in previous board meetings about how many times this employee was actually needed for service calls after hours, the answers were very fuzzy and basically could be counted on one hand in a year, yet taxpayers were being saddled with the extravagant luxury of having a SFD vehicle to drive daily for a long distance. I’d certainly like an explanation of the current custom wheel situation – which has been photographed. I’d guess there is more than one of these running around town . . . Those are funds that could have been used for maintenance and combined with all the other vehicle over indulgences over the years, could go a long ways toward building maintenance. It goes on and on and perhaps lots of NO votes will be the beginning of the end of the excesses.
Its time to wake up and take a close look at the Sedona Fire District and look in the closets and bring the skeletons out for Halloween . . .
To all the SFD voters.
You now have received your ballot. We had over 100 people turn out for the League of Women Voters event at the Christ Lutheran Church last night. It was difficult to put all the data into a 10 minute presentation but the Q and A was good and that part of the meeting was streamed live by the Red Rock News.
For anyone who is interested, we have the following even planned for tomorrow evening, October 20, 2017
ARIZONA LIBERTY PRESENTS
An indepth review and discussion with voters
of the Sedona Fire District Bond Issue
on the November 7, 2017 ballot
Before you vote, please join us as we review in detail the $18 million Sedona Fire Bond Issue including the specific projects and how your tax dollars have been and are being spent.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20, 6:30 – 8:00 PM
CHRIST CENTER WESLEYAN CHURCH
580 BREWER ROAD, SEDONA, 86336
All voters are welcome.
PLEASE NOTE: This is the power-point presentation that we could not present last night just due to time constraints. Each one of the slides has specific information from the results of our research, and this presentation can be viewed in advance on our web site. We will not wait until the end for Questions. Anyone who has a question on a particular slide may ask it at that time. It may take a little bit of time however thoroughness is important.
It is also very important to realize that we are not the group of NO. There is another, more reasonable way to fund what SFD needs without setting up a slush fund of taxpayer dollars that could create an interest liability estimated to be around $3 million. Interest does not buy anything.
Make no mistake about it, to fix the issues at SFD due to a board that is not paying attention and not giving direction to management is going to cost the taxpayers some money. But a Bond Issue is not the appropriate or smart way to do it.
We look forward to your participation.
http://www.arizonaliberty.us for further information.
I’m voting YES on the fire bond.
It is in the community interest and my own personal interest—both short- and long-term.
There is consensus all around that the fire stations need to be upgraded. The board, the chief, and consulting engineers all agree. Station 5 in Oak Creek Canyon must be replaced and the current lease expires in three years. Station 4 in uptown is so old the equipment does not even fit in the parking bays. Old telecommunications equipment needs to be upgraded.
These projects must be done. They are not optional. Either there will be a low-interest rate bond over 20 years, spreading the cost to all service recipients, present and future. Or, if the bond is not approved, there is a strong probability that the mill rate will rise, and there will be a permanent tax increase.
People opposed to the bond lack the professional expertise to make informed decisions about appropriate capital improvements. If the professionals, the board, and outside experts agree that we need improvements we should pass the bond to ensure the safety and security of residents in Sedona and the surrounding area.
The benefits of the bond are extremely important. It’s about providing the best possible response when people’s lives and homes are on the line.
In the end it’s a little money for a lot of peace of mind. VOTE YES on the fire bond.
Steve: I’ve opted to stay out of this fray until your most recent post.
As you know, I’m an old consulting engineer (structural specialty) and I cannot let your statements regarding the Architects and Engineers opinions go unchallenged.
You state, “There is consensus all around that the fire stations need to be upgraded. The board, the chief, and consulting engineers all agree”.
I have actually studied the Architects Report and the Structural Engineers Report presented to the SFD. The following is quoted from those reports re: Sta 4.
(From the Architects Report)
Building Code Evaluation
Basis for Evaluation –City of Sedona has adopted the following I codes.
(Lists codes etc.)
· We did not observe any condition that appeared structurally unsafe.
· We did observe any non-compliant means of egress conditions.
· We did not observe any of the unsafe electrical conditions listed in 115.4.3. Verifying connected loads and sizing branch circuits, feeders or service equipment is beyond the scope of our evaluation.
· We did not observe any of the unsafe conditions listed in 115.4.5 relating to the refrigeration equipment. Sizing the capacity of pressure relief valves and verifying the type and quantity of refrigerant is beyond the scope of our evaluation.
· We did not observe any of the unsafe plumbing system conditions listed in 115.4.6.
(From the Structural Engineer Report)
Regarding the discussion of renovation of the existing building, from a structural perspective, as I have indicated with the notable exception of the apparatus bay cracking and the east wall distress, the building structure appears to be performing within the standard expectations.
In most locations, the existing building structure appears to be performing adequately to resist the code applied and expected lateral loading. There is some concern about the connections of the existing horizontal framing to the masonry lateral load bearing walls, but this could be verified and corrected during a remodel.
It certainly appears that there is a degree of disagreement with the critical nature of the construction. Demolishing the building without examining the horizontal framing connection is less than a complete Engineering analysis. Likewise replacing the lift at Station 1 versus repair need be evaluated on a cost/benefit basis.
I had a 40 year career dealing with capital improvements in both the private and public sectors. Too many unknowns exist to responsibly procure funding without a sincere effort at cost reduction. Value Engineering is a well known process for getting the best value for the dollar expenditure. I’d be happy tp help explore ideas to lower the overall capital cost and then do only that which provides for a safer Sedona.
I’ll be voting NO and I encourage those with an interest in fiscal responsibility to do likewise. Vote NO on the fire bond. Ron
PS The architects reports state essentially the same conditions for building code evaluations for all other stations except Sta.6, which was not evaluated.
A bigger elephant in the room are those cell towers and large antenna on the fire stations. Are we putting our firefighters at risk for serious health problems?
The cell towers are cropping up all over the Verde Valley, like poisonous mushrooms, with equally toxic effects.
There are several issues regarding all the cell towers being constructed in their area, but the most prominent concerns are health effects from EMFs and Constitutional 4th Amendment privacy matters. Numerous groups around the USA also are working on these very same issues. The 4th Amendment Constitutional issues are being considered by a member of Congress on behalf of a group of activists. They are asking questions about the RF and EMF problems that public relations pitches can’t fix or answer — such as those offered by the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC) — an industry group that is active in discounting, nullifying, and educating about the ‘safety’ issues of any ‘smart’ technology, and its inability to cause health problems.
Cell towers in Sedona and the Verde Valley, which are cropping up like mushrooms after rain, have caused many to wonder what they are REALLY for and if they are a heath risk. Many scientific studies have found that fire fighters with antenna or cell towers near the station are at risk for cancer. After discovering the reason why so many LA’s firefighters had brain cancer, thyroid problems, and constant headaches, they began to dramatically oppose cell towers near their fire stations.
In a letter to the LA County Board of Supervisors, the fire fighter union said:
“Los Angeles fire fighters and residents do no not wish to get severe health effects like cancer or be surveilled by this new surveillance capable cell tower infrastructure. We believe this is cronyism, pork barrel, federal tax payer money giveaways to private corporations at the expense of our Constitutional rights to health, life, property and privacy.”
According to activists, all of us need to be concerned because we are NOT sure that wireless technology is safe. Some scientists and public health activists say we are rushing toward 5G without fully understanding its health effects.
Are the fire fighters the sacrificial lambs? We’re supposed to be getting 44 more antennas in Sedona alone, so not only fire fighters, but perhaps our city council, police, and children at schools will be at risk as well?
The 5G technology will bring a surge of wireless devices, including home appliances and driverless cars to Sedona = meaning we are going to experiencing increasing amounts of exposure.
While the industry contends this is all safe, we don’t know if it is. A recent study of fire fighters suggests otherwise. The National Toxicology Group multi-million dollar study concluded that there was a connection to electromagnetic microwaves (from cell towers / antennas) and cancer.
Are we willing to expose all of our fire fighters to high levels of electromagnetic radiation when it caused cancer and a rare heart tumor in laboratory studies? If so, we really should pass the bond and give the fire fighters more hazard pay.