Cave Creek is a rare town that funds a world class Fire and Emergency service WITHOUT a property tax. This feat was fast and smooth to outside observers, but with a lot of hard work on the inside. Critical help came from outside agencies like Scottsdale (they loaned us the indispensable Jim Ford), Phoenix (firefighter training), and especially Daisy Mountain Fire, our partner. We owe them our gratitude.
Our town staff, Carrie Dyrek (Town Manager), Bill Sims (Town Attorney), Council Member David Smith, and Jim Ford negotiated an agreement that will provide a generation of life saving service.
Numerous meetings and written communications made this the best communicated effort in my experience. One outcome of this was extremely helpful recommendations and ideas from some very talented residents.
Now the Town must pay for it. The task is huge because of legacy financial, operational and equipment issues that have expensive solutions. Our Town cannot exist without the water and waste systems, so this is as important as the Fire Department. It is somewhat complicated by the original loans for the utilities being covered by General Fund Revenues (which is the logical place to pay for Fire Services.
Free (to residents) Fire Services is possible due to the extraordinary financial revenue and existing money in the bank. In turn this is largely due to a thrifty town government and the wisdom of turning commercial property around the intersection of Carefree Highway and Cave Creek Road into sales tax generating commercial zones.
Here is the plan:
Provide a Fire Department free of new taxes. This service would cost $2500 in property taxes if we started a new fire district!!
Rural Metro subscribers saved their entire fee every year AND receive far greater lifesaving service!
Use the Town savings to pay for a new fire station, trucks and equipment, all onetime expenses.
Pay for new firefighter salaries and fees from rising general fund sales tax revenue.
Instead of subsidizing critical utility improvements, like back up water from Phoenix, from the General Fund, pay for these onetime (capital) costs using loans.
Loans make sense to control utility rates.
The $6 million cost of the Phoenix back up water project costs the water company only a $420,000 payment per year to be recovered in water rates (note, I am a water company customer) and,future customers who benefit from future reliable water pay their far share. This is fair to existing customers.
This financial plan will become evident with the 2022-2023 budget.