Fire chiefs make sales pitches for service to Foothills dwellers
Nov 16, 2012 (Menafn - The Arizona Daily Star - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Fire chiefs from two fire departments made their cases to about 200 Foothills residents Wednesday about why their service is best.
The debate-style meeting was about the Golder Ranch Fire District's proposed annexation of about 10 square miles and 4,500 homes in the Catalina Foothills area where residents currently subscribe for service or pay a fee for service from a private company, Rural/Metro.
Golder Ranch Fire District now serves Oro Valley, Catalina and SaddleBrooke.
Annexation petitions to add the Foothills area to the fire district's territory will be circulated early next year. A majority of potential taxpayers must sign for the effort to move forward. Those opposed need only keep their signatures off the petitions.
The combined primary and secondary tax rate for Golder Ranch is 1.75 per 100 assessed value of a home.
Here's what proponents and opponents of annexation said in their pitches.
FOR GOLDER RANCH
"We have a stronger network of stations that are available to respond," said Golder Ranch Assistant Chief John Sullivan.
Golder Ranch has seven fire engines, one ladder truck, three water tenders, four brush trucks and five paramedic ambulances, he said. They cover 210 square miles.
After about two years of annexing the Foothills area, the district would add an ambulance and a fire engine at a new station, Sullivan said.
Rural/Metro has four dedicated fire engines, two brush trucks, one water tender and three ambulances serving the area, said Rural/Metro Fire Chief Tom Brandhuber.
"It's about choice," Brandhuber said. A government model isn't right for everybody, he said.
Residents whose needs are met with the private Rural/Metro subscription service may not have a reason to make a change, he said.
It's also about costs, because some property owners would pay significantly more with Golder Ranch, said David Nathanson, from Pima County Citizens for Fire Safety.
Owners of vacant parcels currently pay Rural/Metro 70 or opt out and pay nothing, but they would pay more than 500 to Golder Ranch, he said.
Property taxes at La Encantada shopping center would increase 100,000, and the cost likely would be passed on to shoppers, he said.
"You see, we get to pay for that all over again," Nathanson said.
Contact reporter Becky Pallack at email@example.com or 573-4346. On Twitter @BeckyPallack.
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