By John Hernandez
The new Oracle Fire District Board is dealing with $50,000 in budget cuts which will impact the Oracle Fire Department this year. The Board has come up with a proposed budget that will avoid having to lay off anyone or raise taxes. The budget has no raises for staff this year and the elminations of a supplemental insurance plan.
The insurance provided a supplemental income for someone suffering a serious injury, and it was found that no government agencies provided this type of insurance for their employees.
The Board said they met their three major goals when they worked on the budget: not raising taxes; maintaining personnel levels and providing the needed coverage for fire safety.
The regular OFD Board meeting began with a member of the CERT Team and others paying tribute to Charleen McCarley Tippy, who passed away Apr. 28. She was an active member of the Oracle Firewise Board and a trained CERT. She also volunteered with the Oracle Community Center and the Annual Oaks Festival. She will be missed.
The Fire Board interviewed four candidates for the permanent Fire Chief position. A decision on their selection will be forthcoming. A proposed expansion of the fire station will have to be put on hold due to budget cuts. Other ways of finding funding for the construction project such as grants or fund raising activities will be pursued.
Interim Fire Chief Larry Southard presented his report, saying he was pretty happy with Arizona Water Company and what they are capable of doing with their computerized system in case of a residential fire. He mentioned Freddie Rios and Leonard Garcia of Arizona Water as being very helpful.
He reported the Fire Danger Level has been elevated to “very high.” There has been no deployment of the Wildland Fire Crew so far. The Florence Prison Wildland Fire Crew has been working three days a week doing brush abatement on private property.
There are currently eight students in the Firefighter I & II academy. The fire department is still working on updating their policies and procedures.