EAGAR – At the August 6 town council meeting, a number of important issues were discussed, from appropriate wildfire response by the town fire department, to new building fee rates that should encourage more growth.
Town is debt-free
“The town of Eagar is 100% debt free,” the town clerk’s office announced at the town hall meeting. The last debt was settled on June 27th.“It will impact fees a little bit,” town manager Terry Hinton said later in an interview. Going forward, a water and sewer fee will be eliminated, which will probably be the biggest impact that residents see directly. “This is really due to the hard work and foresight of the town council and town staff working together,” Mr. Hinton said of the accomplishment.
A hot topic for the council was on how the fire department should honor the Intergovernmental Agreement with Arizona on sending aid to wildfires around the state, and to what extent the town of Eagar could – and should – aid those other areas. The benefits of training and money from the state were weighed against the possible risks for loss and injury.
“There are wildland fires, which are completely different from structure fires, which is what they would do here in the town of Eagar,” mayor Bryce Hamblin said in response to the training benefit. “Essentially, what this is, is an opportunity for reserves to go make money fighting wildfires. That’s what it is. And the town may make some money, but we are not in the business of making money.”
The mayor argued against a 350-mile response radius, citing the extensive time it takes for reimbursement by the state for costs – almost a year at times – as well as citing the possibility of leaving the town vulnerable or financially harmed if equipment was lost or personnel were injured. After further argument over the pros and cons, a decision was made by the council that an official policy was needed to address requests for wildfire response based on a more limited range that would allow the fire department to assist neighboring areas but still return to the town quickly if needed.
Building permit fees reduced
A new model proposed at the meeting will be used for calculating fees for building permits that will save residents money when building in Eagar. “You actually save more than the permit costs now,” town engineer Jeremiah Loyd said of the new fees as compared to years past. In an example given at the council meeting, someone building a $300,000 house would see over $1,700 dollars in savings using the new rules. The move should encourage new construction and growth in Eagar and make the process to calculate and update the fees faster and easier. A building permit will now cost $400 for every $100,000 dollars of building valuation plus a $50 plan review fee.
Amber Shepard is an local journalist covering municipal governments and other Apache County topics.