PRESCOTT, Arizona - Interim Central Yavapai Fire District Chief Scott Bliss on Tuesday presented the fire board with both drafts of a proposed fiscal year 2014-15 budget and the 2013 Alarm Summary, a kind of list of vital statistics for the department, at the board's monthly meeting.
Bliss gave the board two draft proposals of budgets, one that would be used if the CYFD entered into a joint management agreement (JMA) with the Chino Valley Fire District, and one that was just for CYFD.
Bliss presented the two $17 million draft budgets, which he said were very similar, although "we came out a little ahead with the JMA." He displayed a graph and said, "As you can see, in 2014 we were collecting far less than we were spending in the (maintenance and operating, or M & O) budget.
"This was done on purpose to try to hold taxes down for the community as it went through the recession," he said, "however, it is not something that can be sustained long-term."
He said the long-term goal was to bring tax collections up to cover expenses, while working to bring expenses down. To accomplish that, he proposed holding the M & O budget to a one-percent increase or less.
The proposed tax rate is $2.34 per $100 in secondary assessed valuation for 2014 and $2.38 in 2015.
"We're also making an effort to bring the total budget down," to $16.4 million in 2015, he noted, and listed expenses he suggested could be cut and purchases to be temporarily delayed.
Board Chairman Steve Rutherford said, "One of the things that jumps out at me is some of these costs, which are clearly total out of our control," pointing to the CYFD's contribution to the state's public service retirement system, "which has doubled in three years," and jumped $85,000 over the last fiscal year.
He added that, while growth is up in Prescott Valley after several down years, which would mean more revenue, "we're fortunate that we're seeing an increase but I'm not convinced that's a sustainable long-term trend yet."
The budget is very preliminary, Bliss said, and changes will be made before it's ready for the board's vote.
Bliss also presented the board with a report on CYFD's emergency responses in 2013. They had 7,352 calls, including fire, medical, and other types, for an average of 20 a day.
The department, which covers Prescott Valley and many nearby unincorporated parts of the county, had average response times of 5:53 minutes in the suburban areas and 8:33 minutes in rural areas.
Medical calls are the majority of emergencies to which CYFD responds, with 5,008 runs in 2013. There were 113 fire calls.