With all the misinformation out there, the basis of this letter will be to provide facts about Proposition 428 and clear up misconceptions. Much of the information presented below is in response to questions that have been asked by community members about the bond.
Timber Mesa’s trucks look new, why do you need new ones?
The Insurance Services Organization (ISO) provides a Public Protection Classification (PPC) for fire departments and insurance companies base your insurance rates on the ISO rating. Part of that rating is how well that fire department follows the standards established by National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). NFPA states that a fire truck has a 20-year life span. Violating this standard reduces our ISO rating and result in higher insurance rates for homeowners. The bond allows Timber Mesa to maintain this standard over the next 10 years.
Why does Timber Mesa need a training center when there is one in Taylor just 20 miles away?
Timber Mesa is required to provide training every year to every employee to maintain our ISO PPC. Timber Mesa currently uses the facility in Taylor more than any other agency in the region. However, due to the distance of the facility and the fact that Timber Mesa conducts training while on duty to reduce overtime cost, we cannot perform all the training required in Taylor. For example, ISO requires that firefighters complete four multi-company evolutions every year. To accomplish this, Timber Mesa would have to send at least three units to Taylor at the same time leaving our district uncovered. This results in extended response times to your emergency.
Is prop 428 going to increase taxes? And, if so, how much?
The simple response to this question is, yes it will increase taxes by an average of $40.00 per year for the average home in the district. This is based on an average assessed value of about $127,000. However, this should also result in a reduction in the primary tax rate because of the ability to retire long-term debt. The reduction in the primary tax rate would be a little less than half of what you would expect to pay for the bond.
But my house is worth $300,000 so does that mean I will be paying more?
The market value of your home is different than the taxable or assessed value of your home. The property taxes you pay are based on your homes assessed value which is much less than your actual cash value. The average assessed value of a home in the district is $127,000 and that information was obtained directly from the County Assessors Office.
The opposition says that Timber Mesa is one of the most expensive fire districts in the state, is that true?
Timber Mesa is one of the most efficient districts in the region on a per call / service delivery basis or by any other metric. This is an easily verifiable fact with a quick Google search of fire districts within the region or state. Every Fire district posts their budgets and this search will quickly show you that TMFMD is nowhere near the most expensive fire district. Also, feel free to look at similar sized fire districts like, Sedona, Bullhead, or Daisy Mountain and again you will see that Timber Mesa is being managed efficiently.
Does Timber Mesa bill taxpayers for ambulance service?
Timber Mesa does not bill district taxpayers for ambulance service. The practice of the Fire District is to bill the taxpayer’s insurance company, take whatever they pay and write off the rest of the bill. However, Timber Mesa does bill non-taxpayers for the full cost of ambulance service so that our taxpayers are not subsidizing out of town visitors for medical transport.
Can Timber Mesa continue to provide current service levels without Prop 428?
The answer to this question is yes and Timber Mesa has been transparent about this fact. Current services would not be impacted if the Prop is not approved. But Prop 428 is not about maintaining our current level of service it’s about improving services to the community and improving firefighter safety. With the bond, Timber Mesa would be able to improve services in the community resulting in a lower ISO PPC rating and reducing homeowner insurance costs in the district.
Will the firefighters make more money if Prop 428 passes?
No, the firefighters will not make more money due to Prop 428. A general obligation Bond can only be used for items like equipment and buildings. Money from the bond cannot be used for usual expenses like employees, utilities, or supplies.
Will moving a station to save 30 to 60 seconds in response really matter?
Yes. 30 seconds to a minute really does matter in a life or death situation and I guarantee it will matter if someone you care about is involved. When people ask me this question, I have a simple illustration, “hold your breath for a minute and you let me know if it matters.” Without oxygen, brain cells start to die and anytime after that a person can have irreversible deficits up to and including death. Additionally, a fire in a modern building doubles in size every 30 seconds. So yes, 30-60 seconds makes a significant difference in our line of work.
Who is funding the opposition campaign against the Bond?
As of the date of this letter I can say without a doubt that every dollar in the opposition PAC is from people related to the private ambulance company, Arrowhead Mobile Healthcare (AMH). I received a copy of their campaign finance filings and the following people were listed as campaign contributors:
James Broome EX-CEO of AMH and a resident of Tucson.
Anthony Benedict Current CEO of AMH and a resident of Tucson
Anthony Kugler, EX-General Manager of AMH and a resident of Tucson.
Cheyenne Mesch, resident of Sonoita.
Total contributions of these four people $7,000.
Doesn’t it seem strange that these people would take such an interest in a community issue that does not impact them and provides service to a community that they are not a part of? Or could it be that a private interest company AMH is just trying to get back at Timber Mesa for applying for an overlapping CON so that our citizens could get the medical service they deserved? Why would a company invest that much money to defeat an initiative that doesn’t even affect them? They own no property here, therefore they pay no taxes in our community.
In closing, Timber Mesa is committed to transparency for the voters in the District.
The Firefighters Association is asking for your conscious, informed support in improving services to the community.