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My Turn: Professional service at lowest cost possible is goal of Verde Fire District
Nazih M. Hazime
6/28/2012 1:05:00 PM
The Verde Valley Fire District 2012-13 budget was recently adopted by the Board of Directors, which included reducing the property taxes for the third year in a row.
The Verde Valley Fire District protects 94 square miles, populated with 17,200 residents. This area encompasses portions of Camp Verde, Cottonwood, and Verde Villages. The District also protects all of Page Springs, Bridgeport, and Cornville including, Verde Santa Fe. The fire district consists of 24 full-time operational firefighters and four reserves divided into three 48-hour shifts staffing two fire stations. There are also six supporting administrative staff.
The Verde Valley Fire District is responsible for fire protection of residential, commercial, and wildland. We are also responsible for medical emergencies including advance life support and ambulance transport, technical rescue of many disciplines including swift water rescues, etc.
The adoption of the budget is the last step of a long process to reach a consensus. The property tax for fire districts consists of the property assessed values (the value the Yavapai County Assessor assigns to each property); multiplied by the mil rate to equal the property tax levy the fire district budgeted for. We must be careful not to confuse the two, tax levy and mil rate. There is a reduction in the overall tax levy for fiscal year 2012-13. The process consists of budget workshops, with all responsible personnel and their areas of the budget, and the needs of the district. This includes, but is not limited to: budget line items like emergency medical services, fire operations, facilities, fleet and maintenance, training, wildland, and technical rescue.
When the value of your home goes down, (Assessed Value), we increase the mil rate only enough to keep the taxes down. The mil rate increase is necessary to compensate for an overall reduction of 15 percent in assessed property value in the district. This process is common across all districts. Since 2008 there has been a decrease of 40.8 percent in assessed valuations.
Every employee is fiscally responsible and is empowered to be innovative with cost-saving initiatives. Some of our efforts are: awarded grants to bring federal tax dollars back to our community, medical transport at no cost to our residents, joint purchases of medical supplies and other equipment, personnel donating time-off for training, etc. The district has made cost-saving reductions and will continue to seek other ways to maintain fiscal responsibility. We have an obligation to the tax payers when they dial 911. They expect a level of professional service at the lowest cost possible and that is the Verde Valley Fire District’s never ending goal.
Nazih M. Hazime is the fire chief of the Verde Valley Fire District.
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