Rural/Metro concerned about fire contract cancellations

By Curtis Riggs | September 3, 2008

Work of Fire Committee raising doubts for some
CAVE CREEK – Rural/Metro officials are concerned people may not renew their fire subscriptions because the Town is considering its fire coverage options.

Rural/Metro Fire Protection Manager Luther Moorhead said some residents have contacted Rural/Metro since they heard about the new Fire Protection Committee. The committee has already heard proposals from Rural/Metro and the Daisy Mountain Fire Department.

“What we hear from residents and business owners is that people are aware of the process and they are trying to decide if they should renew in lieu of the discussions,” Moorhead said. “The Town and Rural/Metro want to remind people the process takes a while and it is important for them to continue with their subscriptions.”

Both Moorhead and Cave Creek officials agreed the researching of fire options can take a few years, as it did in Carefree.

“It happened before in Carefree when they started looking at ways to improve fire coverage,” Town Manager Usama Abujbarah said. “It took a long time. We want to remind residents and business owners it could take a few years. We encourage people to keep their subscriptions in place.”

Mayor Vincent Francia said the work of the Fire Committee is ongoing. The Cave Creek Town Council may not approve the recommendations of the Fire Committee when presented to them. He points out this could drag out the process even further.

“I encourage people to renew their subscriptions as the committee goes through all the alternatives,” he said.

Francia said it could take the Town and the committee longer to research fire-coverage alternatives because they need to consider the eight-square miles west of town, which is being considered for annexation.

Abujbarah said the Town going with a master fire coverage contract is “feasible.” Carefree went with a master contract for fire coverage a few years ago, which eliminated the need for citizens to pay for individual fire subscriptions. Carefree now pays Rural/Metro nearly $110,000 a month for fire coverage.

Francia said he “does not want to tax my citizens” for fire coverage. He is concerned a master contract for fire coverage could lead to a property tax in Cave Creek. Carefree avoided a property tax for fire coverage by instituting a sales-tax increase to help offset the cost of fire coverage.

“Taxes are always a last resort,” Francia said.