Fool me twice, shame on me

Very soon a ballot will show up in your mailbox. There will be a question asking if you want to impose a property tax on yourself and the rest of the property owners in Cave Creek.
As member of the community who has never failed to pay my Rural/Metro dues I share your annoyance with those who choose not to pay! Those of us who subscribe are paying to have trained firefighters and EMTs on call 24/7 and I’ll be one of the first to point out that this is not right. Sure if something happens to one who does not pay their dues, they will get a hefty bill, as they should.

I know the current system is unjust and, I don’t like it.

But, there are some real problems with voting yes and I have more than a few unanswered questions. The estimate for what will be collected from a NEW PROPERTY TAX is $1,300,000.00. This number is loosely based on the contract Carefree has with Rural/Metro. Carefree is a Town with 8.9 square miles and Cave Creek has about 31 square miles. The Town Manager has expressed an interest in moving the Fire Station to the Wastewater Treatment Site on Carefree Highway. (This would require new facilities.)

New facilities cost money! By doing this, (in spite of the best spin they can come up with) how does this not increase response times to the north part of Town? They tell us the Carefree Station will handle these calls. How many times will Carefree residents have slower response times because their truck is in Cave Creek and how long before that arrangement changes?

A good solution would be to just build another station out west in addition to the one we have. Sound good to you?

Okay then, where does that money come from? We don’t have it! Government success should not be measured by growth as it is in the private sector.

If we are limited to $1.3 million then all of the other expenses will have to come from the General Fund. It doesn’t have the excess either!

Remember when you voted not so long ago to approve $25 million for water and $25 million for sewer? You were told your water rates would not increase. How is that working out for you? At the time of the vote for these issues municipalities were limited to spend only what was approved by the voters (at least that’s what we were told). Now after spending an extra $20 million or so and having incredibly high water bills, you’re being asked to do it yet again. My preference would be for the town to make an effort to install fire hydrants on a pay as you go plan before shackling us with more costs and taxes. This would truly make Cave Creek a safer community!

Make no mistake, if QUESTION 1 passes and it costs more than promised the town will find the money somewhere and they can’t print it like the Federal Reserve does. It will come from you somehow.

This is one of the main reasons I twice voted against sending the question of fire coverage to you, the voters. It is an ill conceived plan based on the notions of a few, born of the idea that government should solve every problem, either real or imagined.

Ernie Bunch
Cave Creek Vice Mayor


Property tax – please vote no

I heard the town is in debt for approximately $67,000,000. The only means of paying this debt are impact and building fees (not any more), state revenue sharing (the state is hugely in debt too), sales tax (we need more businesses), and a property tax. Once the town gets a little finger in your wallet they'll wind up taking the whole thing.

Every time the town makes a promise to the citizens it breaks that promise. Remember when they said the water rates would go down when the town owned the water company? Then remember when the water rates went up they said they would use the extra money to improve the infrastructure? That never happened; the money went into the general fund instead.

Remember they promised there would be no road connection from Spur Cross Rd. to Cahava Springs (they're trying to break that promise right now). Remember they paid double the asking price to buy Spur Cross Ranch. Remember when they bought Spur Cross Ranch but neglected to get legal road access and had to buy that later at a high price?
Please VOTE NO on the property tax issue. Stop them from taking advantage of us again. A property tax never goes away, it only gets bigger. The town says that the proposed $1,300,000 contract with Rural/Metro will be the BASE rate for the property tax. Remember the word BASE. The taxes will go up when the town needs to install fire hydrants everywhere and larger water lines to provide the water volume necessary for the hydrants. What will the taxes be like when the town builds one or more new fire stations? The town doesn’t have any answers to those questions now, so let’s all be smart and vote NO. NO NEW PROPERTY TAX PLEASE.

Frank Ziskovsky
Cave Creek Voter


No Data, No Plan, NO!

I have some questions concerning several aspects of the May 15 Property Tax vote.
How did Town Staff arrive at the $1.3 million dollar figure without receiving bids? Usually one sends out a Request For Proposal, receives bids and then selects a bidder and a price.
Is this a pre-arranged deal?

Maybe it’s a coincidence that the individual cost of the expiring Spur Cross tax is approximately the cost of the proposed property tax.

How is it figured that $1.3 million a year will be required for the approximately two fires the town experiences each year? It certainly does not include the cost of ambulance services as Southwest Ambulance (Rural/Metro owned) bills separately.

Does it sound reasonable that a service provider would contract to do the same job for ten years at the same price? What about the rising cost of fuel, salaries and medical benefits? Is Rural/Metro immune to inflation? Of course not and the answer lies in the ballot question itself: “If such amount is approved by the voters, it will be the base for determining levy limitations for the Town for subsequent fiscal years.” And that my friend means your property tax will increase each year. And unlike Spur Cross, this tax is forever!
What are Rural/Metro’s current revenues from the towns approximate 45 percent subscription rate? Are they less than $1.3 million? If so, how much less or put another way, how much of a raise is Rural/Metro receiving? Is Rural/Metro receiving more than $1.3 million from current subscribers and is willing to take a cut in revenues for ten years? That seems unlikely!

Will the contract to be negotiated with Rural/Metro contain an automatic increase as it does in Carefree? If so, wouldn’t it be more reasonable for increases to be based on a Cost of Living Index or Consumer Price Index?

At what point will the proposed contract be insufficient to cover the growth of the town? Are there plans for another fire station(s) to accommodate Cahava Springs at build out and the resort and commercial development in the annexed land? These projects most assuredly would require a much larger NEW property tax.

Without sufficient information, financial data and the lack of a detailed implementation plan, I am unable to support this measure. VOTE “NO!”

Reg Monachino
Cave Creek


Vote NO on property tax

And another thing, think of all the vacant land owners who are going to incur a property tax for the ginned-up purpose of fire protection. Who in their right mind would voluntarily place fire insurance on a vacant lot? How about all those out of town vacant lot owners? Does taxation without representation ring a bell? There was a major kerfuffle some years back along those lines. It was in the papers and everything.

Remember to vote "No" in May. Remember that this is a naked power grab and another attempt at empire building by our feckless Town Manager Abujbarah. Also remember that Liberals always know much better than you how to spend your money.

The last time he tried to over-reach his authority was The Great Garbage Collection Debacle of a few years ago. By the time he had finished negotiating on our behalf, unbidden I might add, not only had his co-conspirators at Waste Management made a recycling bin mandatory, the cost to current subscribers actually went up! I know because I switched companies over it. And persuaded my neighbors to do likewise.

Don't even get me started on his mad negotiating skills that netted us a $4 million water company for a scant $18 million.

This whole issue is the answer to a question no one was asking. Also, nobody is getting a free ride as pro-tax proponents claim. Rural/Metro will not be leaving town any time soon as, contrary to the heroic fire fighting public persona they cultivate, the majority of their income is derived from the very much more mundane, albeit worthy, business of being ambulance drivers.

Finally, if I were running a business and custom was down or subscriptions were waning I think I might do something crazy, radical and innovative. Something that has never been tried before in the annals of commerce. You know, like advertise my services, mebbe?
Vote "No" and make sure your friends and neighbors show up and do likewise.

Gary Kiernan
Cave Creek


Vote NO on Property Tax

The vote to install a property tax for universal fire coverage is a request for a tax that will never expire and will continually increase. Once approved by a citizen vote the elected officials can raise the tax rate by 2 percent annually without citizen approval. The question is not what the tax burden will be in the first year but what will it become in the out years. Research shows property taxes are regressive and the tax burden increases. Do not add to the already burdensome load of taxes.

The current Cave Creek administration is quoting an annual cost figure of $1,300,000 for universal fire coverage. That amount approximately is what Carefree pays; a town that is 4 times smaller in area with less population than Cave Creek. Carefree had to pay for infrastructure improvements that were above and beyond their sales tax proviso. Cave Creek will also need to provide for these types of improvements. Those costs will be in addition to what is quoted in the property tax initiative.

By their own admission, the Rural/Metro business model is an individual monthly subscription for fire coverage and EMT/ambulance service coverage. Their national average for the community subscription rate is 45 percent; the rate in Cave Creek is 52 percent. The ambulance service coverage area is designated by the state in a document called a "Certificate of Need"; ambulance coverage accounts for Rural/Metro’s parent company's primary source of revenue. The ambulance service is provided by Southwest Ambulance a subsidiary of the umbrella corporation that also includes Rural/Metro. Most ambulance service costs are covered by medical insurance, Medicare and Medicaid. The parent company, Warburg Pincus, a Wall Street private equity firm, purchased Rural/Metro for $437.8 million on March 28, 2011. According to Warburg Pincus, "Rural/Metro is an expert provider of ambulance and private fire protection services." (See New York Times article dated March 28, 2011). Between the state of Arizona and the proposed property tax by Cave Creek you have monopoly at its finest.

With a property tax installed, Rural/Metro no longer has to compete for your business. It is not appropriate for government to guarantee a private business revenue.

Vote NO on the property tax; make Rural/Metro earn your business not increase your taxes.

George A. Ross
Cave Creek


Let what is currently working stand

I choose every year to buy a product offered by Rural/Metro called "Fire Protection."
What ever the outcome of the May 15 vote for a Property Tax on all citizens (Property Owners) in the town, I ask you the Cave Creek Town Council (GOVERNMENT): What right does the GOVERNMENT have to force every citizen to buy any product, be it "Fire Protection" or any other product they choose not to want.

Let what is currently working stand since we have Fire Protection available now in the Town of Cave Creek!!

Dennis Driscoll, residential property owner
Cave Creek


Cave Creek proposed property tax

These are taxing times and an unwanted and unjustified property tax is being proposed for the Town of Cave Creek. It is being promoted and spun by the Usual Suspects in the town administration and their tax hungry allies. In a time of financial and economic distress throughout the nation, we find ourselves in a town determined to help themselves to your hard earned money. From Washington, D.C. and the nation as a whole we hear loud demands for fiscal responsibility, debt reduction, spending reduction and No New Taxes.
Apparently the Kingdom of Cave Creek does not believe in any of these issues. They need more money to sustain their debt ridden Kingdom so the solution is always, let’s tax the people. I also say No New Taxes, especially a property tax that will be permanent, unchangeable and ever increasing for whatever reason the town administration chooses to exploit (a Fire Deptartment?) to justify such a drastic tax. We all know that the more we are taxed, the more they (politicians) will spend.

John Vannucci
Cave Creek


Fire tax

From what I gather from reading the paper, the principal argument against this proposal is that some folks have vacant land, so their assumption is that there is no fire danger there.
This is a false assumption – actually, unless the land is solid rock without a single sprig of vegetation, it may hold more risk to the town than land that is under the watchful eye of a householder.

When I was a young mother in Indiana, I personally fought several grass fires started by children playing with matches in next-door empty lots.

An abandoned campfire, a tossed cigarette, a tool striking a rock, lightning hitting a tree – any spark in the dry desert can start a raging wildfire. All of us who have been here for a few years can remember our apprehension when we saw the flames approaching from the east, and those of us here in the town were grateful that it was stopped before it reached our homes, though much damage was done not far from here.

Land ownership carries with it the obligation to manage it responsibly. I am no more eager to pay taxes than anyone else; however the danger of fire is always facing every one of us and is best addressed by the entire community, and I would not feel comfortable acting as a gambler or freeloader.

Nancy Bayfield
Cave Creek


Journalist’s attack not supported by facts

Like every small business owner, I value the reputation of my company a great deal. And, like every American, I value due process and the freedoms guaranteed by the United States Constitution. When I see those things under attack, I feel compelled to speak up. That’s why I’m writing today.

Last year, a petition-signature-gathering firm that I own worked on a ballot initiative in Kenton County, Kentucky. This was very heated campaign, one that had as a major opponent the county attorney. That man, Garry Edmondson, has since filed a civil lawsuit that we believe is politically motivated. This malicious filing centering on the actions of a few independent contractors is something we will continue to fight vigorously, both because we believe Edmondson’s case has no legal merit and because the accusations simply aren’t true.

Unfortunately, our side of the story hasn’t interested this publication or “reporter” Linda Bentley.

As you may know, we’ve worked gathering signatures in the campaign to create the Rio Verde Foothills Fire District. Because of that, we’ve become headline news on these pages. In one story after another, we have come under attack – and on March 14, this paper made a statement that verges not only on libelous, but that flies in the face of the Constitution.

“Although Chavez has filed a motion to dismiss,” Bentley wrote, “claiming there is no reason why the RICO charges shouldn’t be dismissed, it is on procedural grounds that Edmondson doesn’t have standing to sue.

“However, the record already contains sufficient proof signature fraud has been committed.”
Let me make a pair of important points here. The first is, it seems almost impossible that Bentley actually read our Motion To Dismiss. While the document indeed contains some procedural grounds (points we had to argue early in the case, or risk never being heard on the issues they raise), the filing heavily argues the merits of the case. In fact, the words “THE MERITS” serve as a caption heading in our motion. To say that our motion rests on “procedural grounds” is either sloppy reporting or a deliberate falsehood.

Second, and equally important, is Bentley’s astonishing follow-up assertion: “The record already contains sufficient proof signature fraud has been committed.”

Really? Sufficient according to whom? Was there a trial we were unaware of, or some sort of plea we failed to notice? What Bentley expresses here is simply her opinion, despite it being presented as fact.

Fortunately, in America we don’t try cases in the media with reporters as judge and jury; we actually have due process that presumes people innocent until proven guilty and that allows us to defend ourselves against accusations before trained legal professionals and a jury of our peers.

That system has worked well for all of us for more than 200 years now. It guarantees every citizen certain rights and it gives small business owners the chance to stand up in public and say, “We have done nothing wrong and certainly nothing that rises to the level of a crime.” That is absolutely the case here: We have done nothing wrong, nor have we done anything illegal. That is what we have argued in this case and what we will continue to argue in court and out.

My wish is that, in the future, the Sonoran News presents the facts rather than one reporter’s opinion, especially before wrongly convicting a company by deciding to play lawyer, judge and jury.

Andrew Chavez, Owner
Petition Partners and
Blacktop Strategies

Andres Chavez asserts his side of the story hasn’t interested this publication or this reporter. However, when I spoke with Chavez about the civil RICO charges against him in Kentucky, he made light of the fact only three forged signatures were uncovered out of the approximately 25,000 collected. Exhibits in the lawsuit contain sworn affidavits from two doctors who attest to their signatures being forged, while an administrative law judge, whose signature was also forged, swore under oath to such in person, during a hearing. So, this is not based on my opinion but based on signed and sworn affidavits by those whose names were forged. And, last time I checked, forgery is still a crime in all 50 states.

Linda Bentley
Cave Creek