Local News

Tusayan Fire District Sounds the Alarm

November 15, 2012

Tusayan’s Fire District is going broke and the situation is likely to get worse. Calls for service are up, the number of volunteers is on the decline, and federal dollars are shrinking. That’s the message Fire Chief Robbie Evans delivered to the Tusayan Town Council at its November 15th meeting.

Evans is operating on a yearly budget of $400,000, a fraction of the Town of Tusayan’s budget. The Fire District has three full time employees but Evans needs two more firefighters to keep with the the rising numbers of calls for help. He also needs an administration staffer to keep up with the tidal wave of new regulations and paperwork created by federal and state bureaucracies.

Tusayan’s projected budget for the 2012/2013 fiscal year is $4.3 million. Evans is seeking about $150,000 in funding from the Town.

There was no commitment to that amount from the Council. Council Member John Reuter urged Evans to expand the Fire District’s tax base by annexing Stilo lands and going south into Valle. He said he would have to see a long term solution before he would support the town cutting the Fire District a check.

There has been thought given to  expanding to Valle given the fact that Tusayan Fire is often the first responder when there is a serious auto accident. In fact, Evans says about one sixth of the district’s calls for service are in Valle. No government pays for this assistance. It’s up to Evans and the District to chase down insurance companies.

Despite that shortcoming, Evans knows that lives would be lost if he did not respond, “I couldn’t live with myself not going to Valle for emergency calls,” Evans told the council.

Reuter acknowledged the need for more funds but urged Evans to find a long term solution. He told Evans, “This is a community wide situation. I’d like to work with you and get the scoop on annexation and what it takes.  Maybe we can have some workshops. I don’t think we should take over the Fire District.” 

Evans says without some immediate help from the Town, a tax hike is possible.