This past week the community concluded a two-year long citizen participation process regarding the provision of fire and emergency medical services. This discussion was predicated upon the fundamental shift in service levels when Cave Creek joined the Automatic Aid system and neighboring fire departments canceled their Mutual Aid contracts. This open process included 17 public meetings of a citizen committee which involved interviews with all fire and emergency medical service departments within the area, several public meetings of the Town Council including 5 Resolutions, 4 open public workshops held throughout the community with one public workshop held online, and a citizen vote to decide the future direction of the provision of fire and emergency services. This public process was the basis for the election on May 16th.
The voters overwhelmingly voted against a proposed property tax levy that would have financially supported a transition to the regional automatic aid fire and medical emergency system. Approximately 70% of the registered voters within Carefree voted. Both sides of the issue passionately worked hard to share information and their perspective with the voters. This is how democracy and campaigns should work.
The election result sent the clear message that a vast majority of our residents are pleased with the fire and emergency medical services provided by Rural Metro. Voters weighed the risk to life and property vs. costs and provided clear marching orders to elected representatives. As a result, the existing contract between the Town of Carefree and Rural Metro will automatically extend for an additional 42 months through July 2027. I look forward to continuing the Town’s decades old, mutually successful partnership with Rural Metro.
Public safety is always first and foremost. The Town is responsible for providing our fire service partner, Rural Metro, with the tools needed to do their job. In the next fiscal year, beginning July 2023, Carefree will purchase a new fire engine to replace our 20-year-old fire truck. In addition, earlier this year, the Town purchased a brush truck and supplemental equipment for the Carefree Fire Station utilizing grant funds awarded from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. This new vehicle, anticipated to be delivered in mid-2024, will aid in response to wildland fires.
The morning after the election, Rural Metro met with us in Town Hall. We reaffirmed our commitment to one another and our working relationship. Rural Metro confirmed their interest in relocating their former Cave Creek fire engine, now located in the Carefree Fire Station, into its primary service area, the County Island south of Carefree. If relocated into this primary service area south of our community, this engine will still be available to serve Carefree.
Looking ahead, the Town will continue to actively solicit input regarding the General Plan Update. Like the election, we encourage and are thankful for public input. Specifically, the discussion to date has highlighted strong public interest in open space. The Town will work with the citizens to seek opportunities to create additional open space within the community. You can assist by attending future meetings and becoming part of the conversation on the General Plan Update.
Thank you to our residents who engaged in the election process. It is a rare occasion to have such clear direction from our constituents on a specific issue. Your voices do matter. Your involvement and input are critical to our success today and in the future.
Mayor, Town of Carefree