Let me open this by stating that I am fully in favor of Cave Creek having a Fire and Emergency Services Department. I just have an issue with taxing us to pay for it when there are numerous other options which don’t put millions of dollars of our money in their hands to use for whatever they want. If you think a property tax will be strictly dedicated to paying for fire and EMS, you have a lot to learn about the fungible nature of money in municipal governments.
Now, on to the real reason I decided to write this letter. It’s to counter the fake news that’s coming out of our Town Council and Town staff.
At the September 20th Town Council meeting, there was an agenda item to discuss Fire and Emergency Services. Several Town residents, to include myself, spoke on the issue. I urge everyone to watch that part of the meeting on the Town’s YouTube channel. Agenda item 3 begins at time marker 33:40 with Public Comment beginning at 57:40. The most interesting statement was Mayor Bunch’s comment at 1:27:20 in the video. The Mayor states: “I just know that with 40-45% of who’ve been carrying everybody else for the last 20 years, or however long they’ve lived here that aren’t paying. Look like I’m getting I’m paying…the people that are currently subscribed to the fire service that we have… have been allowing other people to carry them for a long time and I’m kind of tired of it. I don’t mind paying my own way. I’ve paid over twenty grand in the last 10 or 20 years for mine and quite frankly it’s an equitable way to handle something for something you, 60% of you, 55… 60 % of you have been getting it for free and I find that insulting, so let’s move on to the next item.”
The issue with the Mayor’s statement is that it is not true. Nobody is getting anything for free. The residents that pay for a Rural Metro subscription are not “carrying” the other residents. Although Rural Metro markets what they refer to as a “subscription service,” it is actually an insurance policy. It’s no different than insuring your home or your personal property. If you decide to pay an insurance premium to protect your home or your jewelry that simply means that if something happens to that asset the insurance company will pay to replace it. If you choose not to insure those assets, then if they are lost or damaged, the repair or replacement comes out of your pocket.
Rural Metro works the exact same way. If you pay the annual “subscription” price, you are simply insuring yourself against having to pay out of pocket in the event you need them to fight a fire at your property or provide Emergency Medical Services. As Chief John Kraetz, of Rural Metro, stated in several council meetings the last time the Town attempted to implement a property tax for emergency services: “If you are not a Rural Metro subscriber, we will still respond to your call, it’s just that we will bill you for those services after the fact.”
The Mayor is absolutely incorrect in his statements that some of us are carrying the others and 55-60% are getting the services for free.
Insurance is the biggest scam in the world. You’re paying money to a company who is betting that they are not going to have to pay out on a claim, and you are willing to part with your money in order to bet that one day the insurance company will have to pay you on a claim that exceeds your total premiums over the years. There’s a reason that insurance companies make so much money. Their actuaries are experts in making sure that premiums exceed claims paid. It’s like the casinos in Las Vegas (or anywhere else), you’ve never seen one of them go out of business for losing money. They know the odds and make sure they are on the winning side in the end.
Some residents may elect not to pay for Rural Metro subscriptions because they have cash available in the event they need services, and desire to hold on to their money and play the odds that they will never need the services, and if they do, they’ll simply pay the market price for those services. Other residents, particularly those on fixed incomes, do not have the funds to pay the subscription price and are willing to play the odds that they won’t need the services.
In any case, the decision to pay for a Rural Metro subscription was a personal choice.
Like many of us, you need to hold the town accountable! Make them show us all of the information, not just what they want to show you to support their position that a property tax is the only way to fund fire and EMS.
Stay tuned for more information on what the property tax can actually cost, versus what the town is putting out to the residents, as well as more information on other options to pay for fire and EMS.