Pima County aids ailing fire district - Tucson News Now

Pima County aids ailing fire district

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Pima County voted unanimously to give the Mount Lemmon Fire District $75,000 in general fund money over the next five years.

"They are not financially sustainable," said District 1 Supervisor Ally Miller. 

The district is not alone in facing financial trouble. Several fire districts statewide are looking at options, such as consolidation to end their financial troubles.

That would be difficult for Mount Lemmon in that it is an island unto itself and does not border any other fire district.

The troubles stem from two fires in the past 15 years which have drained resources and added debt, the Aspen and Bullock Fires. Even though the debt has been paid, the district sacrificed other upgrades to get rid of the debt.

"We have an aging fleet," said Stan Wagaman, the new fire chief, only two weeks on the job. "We've got an ambulance that's 15 years old, an engine that's 14 years old, a brush truck that's 15 years old, two tenders that are 12 years old."

A new fire engine can easily top $600,000, money the district does not have.

Adding to the financial woes is the fact that the mountain is Tucson's playground. One million people visit the mountain each year and account for a preponderance of the calls. 

Locals count for "a mere 10 percent of our calls, the other 90 percent are visitors that come up the mountain," he said.

The district is not allowed, by law, to raise its property taxes which is set at $3.25, the maximum allowed by state law. 

It may be able to increase some fees, tax some property which is nontaxable right now, including county and church property, and bring others who are paying a subscription into the taxing district.

"Those are all things we are looking at right now," said Wagaman.

What's not contemplated, at least not yet, is how to make the visitors who tax the system, pay for that use.

MOBILE USERS: Download our app, the most-used news app in southern Arizona, to get breaking news alerts, weather forecasts and exclusive content on your Apple and Android devices.

Copyright 2017 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

  • Local newsMore>>

  • HAPPENING NOW: Road to Mount Lemmon open with restrictions

    HAPPENING NOW: Road to Mount Lemmon open with restrictions

    Sunday, January 21 2018 3:34 PM EST2018-01-21 20:34:57 GMT

    The road to Mount Lemmon is closed off to the public due to adverse weather conditions and ice on the roads, according to the Pima County Sheriff's Department. 

    The road to Mount Lemmon is closed off to the public due to adverse weather conditions and ice on the roads, according to the Pima County Sheriff's Department. 

  • Locals gather for different approach to Women's March

    Locals gather for different approach to Women's March

    Sunday, January 21 2018 1:11 PM EST2018-01-21 18:11:20 GMT
    Source: Tucson News NowSource: Tucson News Now

    Tucsonans took a different approach to the annual Women's March in the Old Pueblo. As others walked, chanted, and held up signs around the country, locals gathered for a candlelight vigil.

    Tucsonans took a different approach to the annual Women's March in the Old Pueblo. As others walked, chanted, and held up signs around the country, locals gathered for a candlelight vigil.

  • FINAL: No. 14 Arizona beats Stanford in a thriller 73-71

    FINAL: No. 14 Arizona beats Stanford in a thriller 73-71

    Sunday, January 21 2018 3:29 AM EST2018-01-21 08:29:35 GMT

    No. 14 Arizona rallied from 11 points down in the second half to beat the Cardinal and take sole possession of 1st place in the Pac-12.

    No. 14 Arizona rallied from 11 points down in the second half to beat the Cardinal and take sole possession of 1st place in the Pac-12.

Powered by Frankly