Full merger at Copper Canyon Fire and Medical Authority?

Camp Verde, Montezuma-Rimrock fire boards to vote on Nov. 20 whether to merge the two districts

Copper Canyon Fire Chief Terry Keller

Copper Canyon Fire Chief Terry Keller

VERDE VALLEY – In July of 2016, the Camp Verde and Montezuma-Rimrock fire districts created a partnership, the Copper Canyon Fire and Medical Authority.

The purpose of the agreement – a Joint Powers Agreement – was to “create a common and more efficient organization,” Copper Canyon Fire Chief Terry Keller said.

On Nov. 20, the governing boards of the Camp Verde and Montezuma-Rimrock fire districts are expected to formally vote on a proposed merger.

Should the two boards decide to convert the courtship into a full marriage of the two fire districts, a “new Copper Canyon Fire and Medical District will be what is born by the merger of Montezuma-Rimrock and Camp Verde, and they will dissolve the authority at that time,” Keller said.

The “authority,” Keller said, is “just a contracted agency born from the two” fire districts. 

Public hearings

About a dozen citizens attended the Camp Verde fire board’s Oct. 16 meeting, almost a dozen citizens attended the Oct. 17 meeting of the Montezuma-Rimrock fire board.

Said Keller, “only a few offered to speak.”

Camp Verde residents “most simply had questions, and some offered their support of the merger as a smart approach for government,” Keller.

Keller said that “several had questions, and some offered their support” at the Montezuma-Rimrock meeting.

“A couple thought it was moving too quickly, or should be put to a vote,” Keller also said.

Questions asked, questions answered

Why not delay the merger a few more years? Keller said that “every year we wait, we additional lose Fire District Assistance Tax Funds because of the recent statute that allows districts to average their FDATs when they merge, rather than have to abide by the cap. 

“With MRFD getting override monies the past five years, their FDAT was inflated,” Keller also said. “Every year we wait, the money we get goes down, forever, and we could still well use these funds.”

Why not go to a vote? Keller said that the Camp Verde and Montezuma-Rimrock fire boards “are supposed to represent the community, and are the most informed about what is best to manage the districts.”

“If either board fails to provide a unanimous vote, it may well be forced to go to an election anyways, per statute,” Keller said.

The time and location of the Nov. 20 Camp Verde and Montezuma-Rimrock fire board meetings has not yet been announced.

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42

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