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2/13/2013 6:00:00 AM
Administrator: 'It's really bad'

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - Employees at Lake Mohave Ranchos Fire District should finally get a paycheck after four weeks of going without pay, but some significant cuts will have to be made in services and staff hours in order to pull the district out of its financial hole and pay off a $450,000 line of credit, said John Flynn, the district's new administrator.

"How bad is it? It's really bad," he said.

Flynn got his first look at the district's financials on Friday. He said his preliminary investigation doesn't show any fiscal improprieties, but said major changes are coming.

"I'm pretty sure there's going to be a substantial reduction in force at the district. How many, I don't know," he said. "The payroll costs more than the total amount of revenue they've already brought in this year.

"I have to get a good look at the revenue that's coming in. What I've got now I'm basing off of past data. In the meantime, I've scaled staff back to four people a day (at the Dolan Springs station) - and I'm not sure even that is sustainable,"

Lake Mohave Ranchos Fire District found itself in fiscal trouble this year after decreasing property tax revenue couldn't cover both its expenses and the payment of a $450,000 line of credit.

The Meadview station is staffed by volunteers and will also remain open, Flynn said. The district will still be providing ambulance and medical services to the community, but fire protection will be greatly reduced. Surrounding fire districts have agreed to help fill in the need for fire services, he said.

He said it would take him at least two weeks to sort through the district's financials and come up with a plan that will pull the district out of its financial hole.

However, his first priority is to get district employees a paycheck. They haven't been paid in nearly a month. The money will come from Mohave County, which will be reimbursed by the district at a later date, Flynn said.

He doesn't know how long it will take to correct the district's problems.

"I know we won't be out from under that ($450,000) line of credit this fiscal year," Flynn said.

By law, that line of credit has to be paid first, he said. The district has been able to reduce the amount owed on the line of credit to around $437,000, but it's supposed to be paid off on an annual basis. The district just doesn't have the revenue to do that this year, Flynn said.

Flynn has worked to pull two other fire districts - White Mountain Lake and Showlow - in Navajo County out of debt in the last year.

"Lake Mohave's situation is similar to White Mountain Lake's," he said. "They just didn't have enough money, although in White Mountain Lake's case, there were some financial improprieties from a previous administration. I don't see any indication of that here."

The Mohave County Board of Supervisors hired John Flynn of Policy Logic last week after the entire fire district board resigned.

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Related Stories:
• Audit: Mohave County loans not legal
• Troubled fire district on supervisors' agenda
• Golden Valley fire chief: Money's tight, but financials are solid
• Fire chief laid off as district tries to regain financial footing
• Extent of Lake Mohave Rancho's fiscal problems still unclear
• Hard choices ahead for struggling fire district

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article comment by: Let's Be Honest

@ Get Your Facts Straight

Battalion Chief Russ Paronto is NOT an AZ certified firefighter and was the Incident Commander at the Rosie's Diner fire. Look how that turned out...Exactly my point. Pinion Pine and NACFD both make less than LMRFD, so I encourage you to do your research. Then again, they both made payroll all year, so you may be right.

Posted: Monday, February 18, 2013
Article comment by: Get Your Facts Straight

@Le'ts Be Honest
1) The firefighters at the LMRFD are certified Arizona Firefighters
2) LMRFD employees are the lowest paid fire department employees in the Kingman area.
You want to voice an opinion? Great, go for it. But please don't spread false statements as though they are facts.

Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Article comment by: Let's Be Honest

Does anyone realize the uncertified firefighting personnel at LMRFD make more than the certified firefighting personnel in Kingman and run 1/4 of the calls? Did anyone pick up on the fact that residents of the White Hills community spoke at the Board of Supervisors meeting and appeared to plead with the board for assistance when they are partially responsible for the financial hardship they created because they too call for service and don't pay into the fire district? The current financial state of the fire district didn't happen overnight and the parties involved need to be held accountable for the taxpayers money.

Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Article comment by: Resident, Dolan Springs

Lake Mohave Ranchos Fire District employees are among the finest public servants. They continued working without pay knowing their jobs likely would be lost. Those that have to leave the area to find new jobs will be missed and remembered. All of them deserve a thanks more eloquent then I can write.

Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Article comment by: Stand By

Just be patient.......the truth will come to the surface soon enough. Hopefully the KD MIner will continue the coverage and keep the citizens informed of Mr. Flynn's findings.

Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Article comment by: Samuel Adams

@ jack a lope & desert dweller:

It's a combination of poor management by failure to keep their eyes open and pay attention, and make adjustments accordingly. Further, they received poor advice and people 'jumped ship' when they saw the handwriting on the wall.

Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Article comment by: Frances Perkins

The fact is that their auditor told them last year they were in danger, because of debt and costs exceeding revenue in this fiscal year. But this is what you have with an unsophisticated board and an unqualified administrator. And why is this the rest of the county's problem?

Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Article comment by: jack a lope

desert .... how bout just normal operating expenses and payroll

Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Article comment by: desert dweller

WHY? I haven't been reading about a flock of major disasters? Where in H did their budgets go? How about this...incompetence, waste, stupidity?

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