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6/20/2014 8:31:00 AM
CYFD board approves joint management with Chino Fire

PRESCOTT VALLEY, Arizona - The Central Yavapai Fire District board at its monthly meeting Thursday afternoon approved a plan to combine the management of its fire district with Chino Valley Fire District's management, a move which both boards have lauded as a win-win situation.

The joint management agreement, worked out by attorneys for both boards, CVFD Chief Scott Freitag, and CYFD Interim Chief Scott Bliss, sets up a system by which the two agencies would share a chief, who may then allocate "equipment, personnel, and resources as needed" to run both departments.

Freitag, hired by CVFD in September 2013, will be the new chief of both departments; Bliss, who has filled the job on a temporary basis since Paul Nies left the job about seven months ago, will return to his duties as a division chief.

"This has been a good process," Chairman Steve Rutherford said. "It's gone smoothly, and that's a testament to the staffs working well together."

The board's vote was 3-0 in favor of the plan, with members Tom Steele and Debbie Horton not attending the meeting.

The plan would neither cut nor add fire stations, firefighters, or equipment. It combines the two fire district's management teams, which Freitag said was critical.

"Both organizations have been operating very lean, as far as administrative staff," he said. "This is going to allow us to really start moving forward with both organizations and shore up the areas we've been lacking staff."

Freitag said the Chino Valley Fire District board was expected to approve the plan at its Thursday night meeting.

The board also accepted Horton's resignation, who said in a letter that her house had sold "much more quickly than (she) anticipated" and that she has moved out of state with her husband.

Horton said she regretted not being able to vote for the joint-management plan, and wanted to "give Chief Bliss a stellar review for his great leadership."

Member Bob Page asked how quickly the role could be filled, and Assistant Chief for Administration Dave Tharp said, "(The board) can choose whatever time frame you like." The board provided direction to staff that it would like to have applicants so it could make a selection by its July meeting.

The board tentatively approved the district's fiscal year 2014-15 budget, about $16 million. That approval means it can be changed and money can be moved around, but no increases are allowed.

Bliss said the budget proposal would have "no effect on the tax rate."

The budget trims about $900,000 from the last fiscal year's numbers.

"We've been cutting the budget every year" for the four years he had been on the board, member Bob Gardiner said. "That's pretty amazing. But you guys seem to find a way to do it and still provide services."

Tharp attributed the cuts at least partially to sharpened pencils. "We went through and looked at areas even as minute as a $142 utility bill," he said, to get real numbers "and try to reduce as much out of it as possible."

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LB - Orthopaedic Specialists of Central Arizona

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