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4/9/2013 6:00:00 AM
Golden Valley fire chief: Money's tight, but financials are solid
Golden Valley Fire District Chief Tom O’Donohue speaks to a town hall meeting last week.
Golden Valley Fire District Chief Tom O’Donohue speaks to a town hall meeting last week.

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter


KINGMAN - Golden Valley Fire Chief Thomas O'Donohue tried to calm some of the fears residents might have about the department's finances at a Thursday evening town hall meeting.

O'Donohue said that district finances are tight and that the board is doing everything it can to keep the tax rate down, but the district is not even close to the trouble that Lake Mohave Ranchos Fire District found itself in at the beginning of the year.

"The board is watching every dime. We are watching your money very carefully," O'Donohue said. "But the district can't rely on just taxes. We need around $2 million to run this district."

That number has sent O'Donohue out to knock on some big doors outside of the district, such as Arizona State Prison-Kingman, to ask if they want fire services.

This has netted the district more than $859,000 in yearly contracts with Nucor Steel, Griffith Energy, Black Mountain Energy and the company that runs the wind turbines in the hills behind the steel plant, he said.

The district's $120,000 annual contract with the Arizona State Prison includes an additional $240,000 in in-kind services provided by inmates.

The in-kind services from that contract helped cut the cost of building the new fire station on Bacobi Road, O'Donohue said.

The new 12,000-square-foot station will replace the 4,369-square-foot station on Meyer Road that was built in 1979. The new station will cost around $526,000.

O'Donohue estimated that it would have cost the district around $27 per worker per hour to hire a professional contractor. Instead, the district pays approximately 50 cents an hour for each inmate working on the project, and the inmates learn new skills that will help them get jobs once they finish their sentences, he said.

"I have a lot of professionals dressed in prison orange working out there," he said.

The district also cut the cost of construction by going with a steel building, adding skylights and solar tubes to provide lighting during the day and double insulation in the walls to reduce heating and cooling costs, O'Donohue said.

"It's not fashionable, but it is functional," he said. "During the day, there's so much light in there that you don't have to turn on a light."

The district also signed on to a national wildfire-fighting program that sends the district's firefighters and equipment to places all over the nation, O'Donohue said. It also provides replacement firefighters and equipment to cover the district, pays for the cost for Golden Valley firefighters and equipment to respond and gives the district an additional $7,000.

The district also bills for calls outside of its boundaries, including accidents on U.S. 93 and Interstate 40. In addition, it has has a firefighting and paramedic academy that O'Donohue plans to get national accreditation for.

One resident asked about the fire district's application for a certificate of necessity for an ambulance service.

This was another way to bring down costs in the district, O'Donohue said. The district already has the paramedics, buildings and supplies to run an ambulance district and it can provide better coverage that what Golden Valley currently has.

"It will more than pay for itself. About 4 percent of our calls are fire-related," he said.



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Related Stories:
• Fire station on Bacobi nears completion
• Administrator: 'It's really bad'
• Extent of Lake Mohave Rancho's fiscal problems still unclear


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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, April 11, 2013
Article comment by: The Fox Houndte

I couldn't agree more with the other two posters. We are being bleed by these local political management people who will pay themselves 3 times what local working people make and them somehow tell you your getting a great deal. B S . I thing people are waking up to these facts. and we will have Change soon.

Posted: Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Article comment by: samantha young

Everybody who is concerned about the Golden Valleys Fire District finances needs to keep it that way. The board approves spending not watching every penny like Chief O'Donohue states. Look back at minutes or attend a meeting. The new fire station did not cost 526,000 as stated. The public has a right to look at the cost for the new station from start to finish. The metal building may have costed 526,000 but then you have to take into account all the extras not formulated into that cost. People of Golden Valley, we are talking upwards of 750,000. Unfortunately you were all misled by the person who is suppost to be truthful. The CON will not help the district either. It is another misconception by a politician fire chief to make everybody believe otherwise. Wake up citizens of Golden Valley. You are being treated just like every other political pawn. Tell you what you want to hear and not the actual facts.

Posted: Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Article comment by: Money's Tight?

GVFD is the highest line item on a Golden Valley property tax bill. O'Donohue's pay is TRIPLE that of the average income of a Mohave County person. Money is "tight" because GVFD has the same disease as the County. Overtax, keep buying and building and pay yourself whatever you can get away with.



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