On Wednesday, the Board of Supervisors held a public hearing regarding the impact statement submitted from Pinal Rural Fire Rescue and Medical District, currently located at the entrance to Mammoth, Az.
An impact statement is a road map, so to speak, of what the district plans to cover, the borders of the district and their rationalization for the need of such a district. Many from the Copper Corridor made the trip to Florence to express their opinions, either for or against, the proposed district.
For those of you who live in the unincorporated areas between Oracle and Kearny, there has been a lengthy discussion about fire protection and emergency medical services in this area. Like many of you, I agree that there is a need for more services in this area. But I want to make sure those services are adequate for the residents.
When the impact statement came to a vote, I along with Supervisor Cheryl Chase voted no for this proposal. My thought was to give the Pinal Rural Fire and Medical District time to improve their relations with other first responders in the area. It’s no secret that the relationship between Pinal Rural Fire and Medical District’s Chief Bud Paine and the other established fire and rescue departments has been strained.
I have heard from the local fire chiefs of their dealings with Chief Paine. It would appear to me that all first responders need to look at the larger picture when it comes to protecting our communities. It is important that all districts work together to provide the best service possible to any fire, auto accident or medical emergency. Former Pinal County Emergency Manager Lou Miranda worked diligently to get all the local chiefs together to discuss their differences and how to remedy this dysfunctional relationship. Due to lack of full participation, these efforts were not fruitful.
The impact statement by Pinal Rural Fire Rescue and Medical District was approved on a 3-2 vote. This means that the proposed district has one year to collect signatures of 51 percent of the residents within their district boundaries to become a taxing entity. Property taxes for those homes and parcels included in the proposed district will increase according to their taxable value. If the required number of signatures are obtained, I am hopeful that the board members of the Pinal Rural Fire Rescue and Medical District will understand the importance of working as a team with other fire districts. I will offer any assistance to make sure that Pinal Rural Fire Rescue and Medical District develops mutual aid agreements with our established fire districts and ambulance providers to make sure our residents are properly protected in a time of need.
Pete Rios, District 1 Supervisor