A great deal of misinformation has been circulating within the Christopher/Kohl’s Fire District about the proposed fire tax increase. Perhaps the facts presented in this letter will clarify some of that information. The proposed increase of 28 cents would provide the community with three new paramedics which would give us 24/7 paramedic coverage. It would give raises to all fire department personnel, who are currently earning less than employees in surrounding departments.
At the May 11 meeting, information was presented to the community about the method Forest Lakes uses to employ part-time paramedics. Upon investigation, it was found that the Forest Lakes Fire Department does not hire their firefighters/paramedics as contract labor. They also do not issue 1099s as indicated at the meeting. The pay scale suggested in conjunction with this program is higher than the rates proposed in the Christopher/Kohl’s budget. Therefore, it appears that this plan would not be cost effective.
A close look at what this tax increase means to the individual taxpayer reveals that the increase on a house valued by Gila County at $100,000 would be $28 per year, a house valued at $300,000 would be $84 per year, and a property valued at $500,000 would be $140 per year. This hardly seems like an exorbitant fee given the peace of mind that the availability of full-time medical attention would offer.
A look at the current fire taxes in surrounding districts puts the Christopher/Kohl’s tax rate at one of the lowest. For instance Tonto Basin’s fire tax rate is $3.05, Pine/Strawberry’s is $2.65, Hellsgate’s is $2.66, Whispering Pines’ is $2.61, and Houston Mesa’s is $2.98. These are all 2009 figures and may increase in 2010. Christopher/Kohl’s proposed fire tax rate of $2.30 certainly compares favorably to those of other districts.
It would appear to the well-informed property owner that the benefits from the proposed tax increase far outweigh the cost. As the fire board considers its final decision at the June 8 meeting, please keep in mind that the district encompasses 1,275 properties. Therefore, the 60 individuals who have protested this increase represent less than 5 percent of property owners, which is hardly a majority. I hope the board of directors and the residents of the district will recognize this as a unique opportunity to support our fire department and bring an increased level of medical services to our community.
Christopher Creek resident