BY LINDA BENTLEY | MAY 2, 2012
No Tax PAC explains deficiencies of Question 1 property tax
‘If Question 1 is what we are getting now, it will not be equitable, affordable or sustainable’
Photos by Linda Bentley
CAVE CREEK – Last week, the No Tax PAC held an informational meeting at the Buffalo Chip Saloon to help citizens better understand Question 1 on the May 15 ballot.
Question 1 is asking voters whether or not they want to impose a $1.3 million primary property tax to pay for fire and emergency medical services, which is currently funded through a voluntary subscription with Rural/Metro.
Former Councilman Adam Trenk stated the proposed property tax is neither equitable nor sustainable and said there is no free ride.
He also pointed out Rural/Metro’s subscription rate has always hovered around 50 percent, so this isn’t something new or suddenly unsustainable.
Trenk, who participated in the town’s fire committee, said there should have been an analysis done before presenting the question to voters.
He believes the $1.3 million property tax is inadequate to provide fire coverage for a town the size of Cave Creek.
Vice Mayor Ernie Bunch, who, along with Councilman Dick Esser and Mayor Vincent Francia, voted against placing the measure on the ballot, said property tax is “just wrong.”
Bunch said it’s wrong for the government to force people to continue to pay to use their land even after they’ve paid it off.
Trenk said Rural/Metro is a private company motivated by profit and if there were not enough subscribers they would do something about it.
He also said if citizens really wanted to have a property tax they could have filed a citizens’ initiative to place the measure on the ballot.
As the general manger of Turf Paradise, Francia likened the manner in which the measure was placed on the ballot to horses breaking out of the gate early and said the town was also over-eager in the way it went about this.
He said, “Government should stay out of the home.”
Francia also noted the tax does not provide for any infrastructure that may be needed in the future.
“The goal of town-wide fire coverage is noble,” said Francia, “This is not the way to go about it.”
A question from the audience had Francia, once again, quelling rumors that seem to have taken on a life of their own.
One of those rumors included the town paving Morning Star Road to enable traffic from the Cahava Springs Ranch development.
Francia said there is a development agreement precluding the paving of Morning Star Road and the Cahava Springs Ranch project was approved with one way in and one way out via 24th/26th Street.
Touching on another rumor, Francia said the town has no plans to condemn anyone’s property to build a fire station on Spur Cross Road.
Scott Dahne invited people to visit www.savecavecreek.org, where he has posted Francia’s written e-mail response to these rumors.
A letter by Bob Voris was passed out to attendees. Voris also spoke to the crowd and answered questions.
A Cave Creek resident since 2005, Voris is a retired battalion chief from the City of Portland Oregon Bureau of Fire and Rescue with about 30 years of professional fire career experience from firefighter to fire marshal.
When asked how much it would cost to build and man a fire station, Voris said that would be impossible to answer without the town first defining what it expects from these services and its goals regarding response times.
Voris said, “Question 1 is so deficient it’s hard to know where to begin.”
The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) standard for both fire and medical emergency response times is four minutes.
While a community does not have to adopt NFPA standards, Voris said they do serve as recognizable standards of service and are, therefore, useful as a planning and evaluation tool.
Voris also noted there are fire hydrants in town, including one in front of his house, which, to his knowledge, have not been tested.
He said some are incorrectly installed, rendering them unusable, as he questioned whether adequate water mains have been installed in all areas of town.
Voris seriously doubts the $1.3 million proposed property tax addresses critical and essential elements of fire protection.
He stated, “My gut, intuition and experience tell me that the expectations of some citizens for a guarantee of ‘equitable and affordable fire protection and emergency services for all members of our community’ will not be met with Question 1.”
Voris said, “If Question 1 is what we are getting now, it will not be equitable, affordable or sustainable,” and suggested “starting over by defining the level of fire protection and emergency medical services the citizens want and need.”