KINGMAN - The Lake Mohave Ranchos Fire District will completely pay down bank and county loans by March 2015, according to fire officials.
Northern Arizona Consolidated Fire District Chief Patrick Moore told county supervisors Monday morning the struggling district's lease obligations have been paid down, and as of this month it has paid back roughly $550,000 of the $700,000 county loan provided them last year.
That leaves about $150,000 still left to pay, which is roughly the same amount the district - with an average monthly operating budget of $63,000 - spent in excess of revenues last year, according to Moore and John Flynn, a government affairs consultant hired to help turn the insolvent district around.
The district will afford the remaining outstanding debt through $675,253 in flat tax revenue, they said, although about $126,000 in delinquent taxes this year remains to be paid.
Flynn and Moore said all outstanding payroll obligations at Lake Mohave Ranchos Fire District have been met, and they do not anticipate any changes to their current staffing levels.
That's a relief compared to where the district was last February, when Lake Mohave Ranchos firefighters, paramedics, EMTs and other staff went about a month without receiving any pay.
Since then, county and city emergency response teams have come to the aid of the fire district and residents of Dolan Springs and its surrounding communities, running 911 dispatch services through Kingman and utilizing Northern Arizona Consolidated Fire District's leadership and resources.
The fire district went into financial peril as a result of diminishing property values and the subsequent tax base that makes up a large portion of the district's budget.
While an Auditor General report released last month found fault with the county's loan to the district - a practice successfully done in other counties in the past, and clarified as lawful by the state Legislature three months after Mohave County issued the loan - the county's administrative and legal teams stood behind their action.
"Thank you for doing a stellar job in putting this back together," said Supervisor Gary Watson to Moore and Flynn during Monday's meeting. "You guys are doing a great job."
The district will propose a $1.1 million budget for fiscal 2015, at which time they intend to pay down their outstanding debts, according to Flynn and Moore.
Posted: Saturday, May 3, 2014
Article comment by:
Carol Ann Rivera-Miller
THANKS TO ALL THE STAFF WHO REMAINED! Even though some went without pay, they still stood by our little town by making sure we were safe. OUr Fire Department is one of the main Attractions too! When the travelers come through town, they see how clean it is kept. When potential buyers inspect the possibility of settling out here, they are certainly assured of adequate coverage too. I think the proof that this town cares enough to get this cleared up in such a short time, proves there are fantastic people supporting what goes on in this small, but thriving community. NOW...HOW ABOUT PROPER AMOUNT OF SHERIFF'S?