Since I’ve been posting so much about the fire department, I created a new category for LMRFD, the Lake Mohave Ranchos Fire District.
Does anyone know what Dolan Springs and Meadview have to do with Lake Mohave?
I’m reposting the entire minutes of the 8/17/15 meeting in Dolan Springs because it appears that they will be deleted soon at the LMRFD site. The LMRFD post with the minutes is dated “January 13, 2015.” Obviously, that’s incorrect. It looks like Ellen just deletes the old minutes instead of starting a NEW post. Sigh …
Please be CAREFUL when you visit the LMRFD website as it has NOT been updated in a long time.
The LMRFD website has been hacked and likely contains MALWARE and/or VIRUSES.
I credit LMRFD administrator John Flynn with this major screwup. With all the reading and talking about the fire department I’ve done this last week, I have yet to hear of any accomplishment other than Mr. Flynn imposing AUSTERITY.
Welcome to Greece!
Why Mr. Flynn gets paid $7,000/month to come up with the grand idea to fire almost everybody and to sell and give away equipment is beyond me.
Mr. Flynn’s vision of 1 staff in Meadview (no ambulance!) and 2 people in Dolan is simply not acceptable for a fire district with a budget exceeding one million dollars.
A few weeks ago it took about 45 minutes for an ambulance to get to Patterson Grade (Pierce Ferry MM 26). It would have taken well over an hour to get to downtown Meadview.
Here are the meeting minutes and at the end of this post is an audio recording of the entire meeting.
MONTHLY MEETING (Current)
January 13, 2015 by EREH
MINUTES OF REGULAR PUBLIC MEETING OF THE LAKE MOHAVE RANCHOS FIRE DISTRICT
AUGUST 17, 2015
1. CALL TO ORDER – Meeting taped – Administrator John Flynn called the meeting to order at 1:35 p.m.
2. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE – Administrator John Flynn led in the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance
3. APPROVAL OF MINUTES – Administrator John Flynn approved the minutes from the July 20th meeting.
4. Report on the financial condition of LMRFD; fiscal 2015-16 budget: LMRFD Administrator, John Flynn, speaking to a group of between 50-75, (moved to the Chamber of Commerce building at the request of attendees) reported that he and Chief Moore had earlier this day attended the Mohave County Board of Supervisor’s meeting at the request of Supervisor Jean Bishop, to present a status report. He reported that the LMRFD is financially solvent with no long term debt; that it began the 15/16 Fiscal Year with $51,000 +- on hand and a 1.1 $Million budget which keeps 2 people on each shift in Dolan Springs and 1 in Meadview 24×7, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, except when scheduled full time personnel are absent for some reason. He added that going forward, the financial condition should allow for coverage when personnel call off. He said the LMRFD continues to clear its finances through the Mohave County Treasurer, per law. “It is in good shape financially and sustainable at the level of services provided as of today.”
5. Discussion of proposed consolidation with the Northern Arizona Consolidated Fire District:
Mr. Flynn reported that for the last 30 months, at every monthly meeting, options for the LMRFD going forward have been discussed, and that among those have been consolidation with a larger Fire District. (Northern Arizona Consolidated Fire District being the nearest). The option of consolidation into NACFD has come to be considered by those attending the meetings, to be the best option for long term viability of the Fire District.
Mr. Flynn reported that he will appear before the NACFD Board on Thursday, 8/20, as the next step in the process to present his plan to them. If they are agreeable to the plan, then the taxpayer notice process will be begun. All taxpayers in the LMRFD and NACFD will receive a notice of a time and place for a public hearing on the proposed consolidation. The NACFD Board would conduct the public hearing for their District in Kingman, and John Flynn would conduct one in Dolan for the LMRFD. If they are not agreeable, then the LMRFD will remain status quo, with John Flynn as Administrator and NACFD providing management and supervision until the November 2016 election. At that time an election will be held to elect 5 Board members for the LMRFD. Mr. Flynn stated that it would not make any difference to the staffing or level of service whether the LMRFD consolidates or moves forward as a stand-alone District, as the amount of revenue available will remain the same. To illustrate, he said with the current pay scale for the LMRFD personnel at the same as NACFD, minus 5%, it costs $165,000 to staff 1 Firefighter position 24×7, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. He stated that if it ever became feasible to staff an additional Firefighter position, it would go to Meadview, which currently operates with one. Mr. Flynn passed out copies of the financial information he presented to the County Board of Supervisors and explained that it would require a tax rate of 4.99% to add 1 Firefighter position, with the LMRFD tax delinquency rate of 20% taken into account. The LMRFD is currently at its cap of 3.25%. He said the LMRFD is experiencing a perfect storm of recession, property values down, and ambulance revenue down, and hard costs up.
Mr. Flynn said the tax lien sales are not attracting any investors interested in purchasing tax liens in our area. He added that it is not any different in most rural areas in Arizona. He stated that there are 156 Fire Districts in the state of Arizona. He is currently Administrator for Santa Cruz County; has been Administrator for Navajo and Apache Counties and understand the problems rural Fire Districts face. He said the problem is sparsely populated low value properties coupled with the rising costs of running a Fire District. He said it doesn’t matter which option the taxpayers of the LMRFD choose, it is not going to change the current service level. He stated that he has been in the fire service 40 years, as a Fire Chief and a Firefighter, and agrees that the current level of service the LMRFD can provide is not acceptable. He said that if the area gets any fire service at all, or more importantly, keeps the ambulance service here, what we have is what we get. He reiterated that, based on his extensive experience, he believes consolidation into the NACFD is the best option for the LMRFD to ensure financial viability and continuing services on any level.
There you have it! Mr. Flynn gets paid $7,000/month for accomplishing absolutely NOTHING!
Mr. Flynn apparently never had any intentions whatsoever of leaving us with a FUNCTIONAL fire department and ambulance service.
I elaborate in my 8/20/15 post Fire department news.
Did Mr. Flynn tell anybody that THIS is the best he could do before he got hired?
I’d also like to see some DOCUMENTATION for his claim of the 20% tax delinquency. That’s ONE in FIVE properties! Last night I spent a few hours looking at tax sales. For the entire county there were 3,506 tax liens for sale as of last night. The majority are vacant lots with low assessments. I couldn’t find any properties with improvements in our area. And some of the tax liens for sale are for lots outside the fire district, so no loss of fire department income from those. Many had annual taxes of $19.
The entire delinquent tax is only $1,024,274.22 according to the county’s spreadsheet.
According to the LMRFD 15/16 budget, $594,975 are expected from real estate and personal taxes and $104,246 is the budgeted delinquency.
Over 10% of the ENTIRE county’s delinquent taxes are in Dolan and Meadview?
What am I missing?
Patrick Moore, Fire Chief of the Northern Arizona Consolidated Fire District, added that even if the NACFD Board votes to move forward with consolidation, there will be several months of public meetings and notices to comply with, and it would likely be towards the end of the calendar year before consolidation would be complete.
6. Fire Chief’s Report on Operational Matters: intermingled in Call to the Public.
7. Consideration of District boundary changes to include parcels of real property in accordance with A.R.S. §48-262.1. NONE
Is this about including ALL properties in the fire district? If so, that ought to be way on top of the list of things to do!
CALL TO THE PUBLIC:
A public body may make an open call to the public during a public meeting, subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions, to allow individuals to address the public body on any issue within the jurisdiction of the public body. At the conclusion of an open call to the public, individual members of the public body may respond to criticism made by those who have addressed the public body, may ask staff to review a matter or may ask that a matter be put on a future agenda. However, members of the public body shall not discuss or take legal action on matters raised during an open call to the public unless the matters are properly noticed for discussion and legal action.
TOM LITTLE, MEADVIEW: Re: Volunteers; Chief Moore responded by reiterating that volunteers need to be insurable. In order to be insurable, they must pass a background check, a drug screen and a health check as well as being able physically to do the job. He stated that he cannot put anyone to work anywhere in our District without being insured. He added that insurance is one of the enormous costs the Fire District has.
E. JAY FLEMING, DOLAN SPRINGS: Re: Volunteers; Mr. Fleming discussed the issue of 1 or 2 personnel adequately responding to an EMS call and suggested volunteers to fill the gap. Chief Moore replied that they are not opposed to volunteers. Mr. Fleming pointed to the percentage of EMS to Fire calls and asked why the LMRFD cannot have strictly EMS personnel who do not need the physical ability that Firefighters do. Chief Moore replied that the LMRFD staffs Firefighter/EMS combination so they can respond to whichever type of call comes in. With only 2 people on duty, they need to multi-task. He added that he ran an active recruitment for volunteers in Kingman and LHC and had 2 responses. Mr. Fleming said to get some young people from Las Vegas who work in Vegas to volunteer in Dolan for experience.
STEVE ROBERTS: Re: 4 FF on fire; Mr. Roberts stated that without 4 Firefighters on a fire, they cannot go in and rescue anyone. Chief Moore replied that they allow Firefighters on the scene to make the decision, depending on the situation and conditions.
BILL SHEPHARD, DOLAN SPRINGS: Re: Options to raise more money; Are we being reimbursed for ambulance calls on the highway? John Flynn answered, “Sometimes”. We bill everybody. Ambulance Services are regulated by the State of AZ. We comply with regulations, billing everyone the amount established by the Arizona State Department of Health Services. AHCCCS and Medicare have repeatedly reduced the amounts they pay over the last 7 years; other insurances follow Medicare’s lead. We collect about 30% of our charged rate, based on their “allowable” payments. There are times we collect $0 because people have no insurance and do not pay it themselves. They get sent to a collection service which may or may not collect anything. Question, “What about Grants?” Chief Moore responded that NACFD applied for 30 grants last Fiscal Year, a few of them for LMRFD. He added that until LMRFD became financially solvent it was not seriously considered for available grants. Now that it is solvent, it will stand a better chance at getting grants.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Questioned if the meeting was just to satisfy the appearance of considering public opinion before shutting down the District; Chief Moore replied that, “This is a regular scheduled monthly Board Meeting for the Fire District.” He stated that there has been discussion regarding consolidation at every regular scheduled monthly meeting for the last 30 months. He stated that never have they discussed shutting down the Fire District.
JOHN FORD, DOLAN SPRINGS; How can private ambulance services make money and we cannot? John Flynn responded that the reason the LMRFD has a C.O.N. (Certificate of Necessity) the size that it has, is because it was given to the LMRFD by a private ambulance company for the reason they could not make any money running it. He said there is not enough transport volume in the communities of Dolan and Meadview to pay for staffing the ambulances. He said there is not one ambulance operated by a small fire district in the State of Arizona that makes money on its ambulance service. They are subsidized by their fire districts. Chief Moore added that the LMRFD ran 680 Fire/Ems calls last year, compared to 4000-7000 at NACFD. He estimated that AMR (River Medical) ambulance service in Kingman, probably ran close to 10,000 calls last year, not including inter-facility transports. Chief Moore and John Flynn stressed that it is volume that allows private ambulance services to make money and LMRFD does not have volume.
CHARLOTTE KIFFER, DOLAN SPRINGS: Questioning pluses/minuses to consolidation; Chief Moore responded that consolidation would allow continuation of current management and assistance from NACFD resources. It would allow reduction in administrative costs. Some disadvantages to going as a stand-alone District, with a Board and Fire Chief, include, the costs associated with educating and certifying a Board, hiring and educating a Chief, hiring and training an Administrative staff, etc. He stated that for 7 consecutive years, Mohave County has seen a decline in assessed valuations. He said of the 14 Fire Districts in Mohave County 7 are now at their tax cap, pinching pennies and doing more with less. Consolidation cuts duplication of some costs of operations and allows a benefit from volume purchases of supplies and equipment.
E. JAY FLEMING, DOLAN SPRINGS: Questioning how to get out of the 2200 sq. mi. C.O.N. Chief Moore responded that both he and John Flynn have tried to get AZ Department of Health Services to reduce the C.O.N., but they will not because there is no one else to take Hwy 93. He said they are working with AMR (previously River Medical) to co-share it.
CLAUDE THORPE, DOLAN SPRINGS (FORMER BOARD MEMBER): Questioning the answering of fire calls outside the District. Chief Moore answered that the LMRFD no longer responds outside the District for fire calls. He said NACFD responds to them.
VINCENT SALMU, DOLAN SPRINGS: Spoke to the issue of, “Not enough money collected to pay for what is needed,” and those demanding more personnel. He said it comes down to a financial situation and we have 2 options. He reminded that we had a Board and it did not work for us. He said, “There are not enough qualified people in this area to be on a Board and being a business owner in town I do not want to go that route again.”
Knowing how the MCA (Meadview home owner association) has been mismanaged, I have to somewhat agree. But if we accept that fewer than 1 in a thousand residents have the integrity and intelligence to be on the fire department board, well, that’s a scary thought.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Questioning why he has to “pay taxes every year for a Fire Department and that has not changed”. Chief Moore responded that it has changed, that the amount people are taxed goes down every year because the assessed valuation has gone down every year.
Taxes have gone down only for a few years. Check your tax bills from 2000 or 2005 and compare them to today’s taxes. Real estate taxes are higher now than back then. Here are some REAL numbers for a mobile home in Lake Mead City:
2003: $101.86 2004: $105.34 2005: $97.22 2006: $90.48 2007: $95.56 2008: $110.60 2009: $132.02 2010: $128.62 2011: $138.52 2012: $140.10 2013: $153.20 2014: $175.90
I realize that a few years ago some tax rates were increased, including from 3% to 3.25% for the fire district.
Full Cash Value: Purchased in 2000 for $12,500
Assessed in 2014: $16,853 — 2015: $19,565 — 2016: $22,079
So there. If this property was actually IN the fire district (it’s not, and I’d sure like to know WHY that is), the fire department would have almost doubled its income in the last 15 years from this 1960 500 sqft mobile home — a typical home in our area.
LAKE MOHAVE RANCHOS FIRE DISTRICT TAX LEVY:
2007: $638,341 3.0000%
2015: $594,975 3.2500%
Not exactly a huge difference! Wish I could just download the fire departments’ financials for the last 15 years, but no such luck. Can someone help me out with that? Where is that info?
REBECCAH SMITH, DOLAN SPRINGS: Re: Losing control; Spoke to her fear that management of our area for fire and EMS services from Kingman would not have the personal investment or care that locals would have. Chief Moore responded that he understands her concerns, and that going back to our own Board risks a repeat of the previous experience. She stated the need to put in a competent Board with proper checks and balances.
JOHN FORD, DOLAN SPRINGS: Re: PILT funds. (Federal Payment in Lieu of Taxes) Chief Moore and John Flynn responded that the 3 $Million is divided between 3 cities, 14 Fire Districts, the Sheriff, Road Maintenance, etc. They said it has not typically come to Fire Districts, and if it WERE divided up among all the taxing agencies not currently on the list, there would not be much available to any. As a paid lobbyist in the legislature [emphasis added], John Flynn said he knows from experience, there is always danger of PILT not being funded at all, and if it were taken from the Sheriff Dept., there would be much less law enforcement available than currently.
CAROL FOWLER, DOLAN SPRINGS: Re: Funding for Volunteers; Chief Moore replied that there is not any available in this year’s budget but it might be possible going forward.
VINCENT SALMU, DOLAN SPRINGS: Re: Control, Budgeting, Staffing, and how it would be calculated after consolidation; Chief Moore made the point that all taxpayers in the LMRFD Fire District would be eligible to run for the NACFD Fire Board, after consolidation, thereby retaining “control” with a voice on the Board. Regarding Budgeting, he said that each area within the NACFD, runs on its own collected tax revenue. No area subsidizes another. When he prepares the NACFD budget for the year, he breaks down the projected revenue for each area based on its assessed valuation and allots expenses accordingly. Staffing for each area is calculated on 80% of the total revenue for that area.
PAT STAAB, MEADVIEW: Spoke to the fact that when the County chose not to shut the LMRFD down, they made it clear that if we messed up going forward, they would not bail us out again.
Exactly HOW was the fire district bailed out? Did the county gift or loan funds?
REBECCAH SMITH, DOLAN SPRINGS: Re: Fire Science program in Kingman & potential candidates for volunteers; Chief Moore responded that he is already pursuing that with the hope that in a year or 2 some high school kids will come out, stable and viable members of the organization.
FRANK GERACI, DOLAN SPRINGS: Re: 1.1 Million $ budget & 3 employees: “Years ago much more equipment & personnel, what changed?” John Flynn replied, “Two things. One, for years you were spending more money than you were bringing in and the bank didn’t put its foot down to stop the over-extension of the Line of Credit. Two, the chief in charge spent energy looking for more revenue without cutting costs”. John Flynn continued, that when he took over, the District was at least $750,000 in debt and hadn’t made payroll in 6 weeks. He was tasked with cutting expenditures sufficiently to continue operating with minimal cost while paying off $750,000 in debt. That required cutting employees and selling surplus equipment. During this time assessed values kept going down while hard costs skyrocketed.
MARK SHAVER, DOLAN SPRINGS: Re: can’t keep cutting or eventually there is nothing left. Chief Moore agreed, and said they are working with the Arizona Fire District Association to resolve some of the issues. He suggested citizen initiatives, and the need for citizens to contact their legislators and tell them that Rural Arizona Fire Districts need some relief in order to keep any personnel in house.
DAN DOWDY, DOLAN SPRINGS: Re: Board needs to be held responsible.
MARY DOWDY, DOLAN SPRINGS: If consolidate, will residents of Dolan Springs be eligible for Board? Chief Moore answered “yes”. Requirements, able to vote, no felonies, be a U.S. Citizen, take the classes, attend the meetings. Gone if miss 3 meetings.
Chief Moore pledged his and John Flynn’s support if the residents choose to return to a stand-alone-Fire District, to help in any way they can. He also cautioned that the County support will not be available again if they fail.
VINCE SALMU, DOLAN SPRINGS: Re: How to help move consolidation forward? Chief Moore answered, “Show up at the NACFD Board Meeting, Thursday at 6:00 p.m. and ask for consolidation.” 2045 Northern Ave., Kingman
CONSIDERATION OF ITEMS for the agenda of the Lake Mohave Ranchos Fire District’s next scheduled meeting and or a special meeting called by the administrator for the purpose of carrying out its powers and duties:
ADJOURNMENT: Administrator John Flynn Adjourned the meeting at 3:11 P.M.
Adjourned to Executive session per A.R.S. 38-431.03A: NONE
Date and time of next meeting: Monday, SEPTEMBER 21, 1:30 P.M. at the Meadview Civic Center located at 247 E. Meadview Blvd., Meadview, AZ 86444
Respectfully submitted by: John Flynn, Administrator
FYI: Meadview doesn’t have a “civic center”, although I sure wish we did have a place for non profit organizations to meet. It’s the Meadview Civic Association (MCA), a home owners association.
Here is the entire recording of the fire board meeting:
We are being austeritized and nobody noticed.
Is anybody awake?
I’m appalled that next to no financial information for the LMRFD is available online. Did the hackers delete it?
Please do submit your comments and hopefully some ANSWERS to my questions.