Local News

Rescuing the Rescuers

January 26, 2015

The Tusayan Fire District is running out of time and money. That’s the message the Fire District Board delivered to the Tusayan Town Council at its January 21st meeting. The District didn’t have enough money to pay its bills as of March. It asked for and received $75,000 from the Town Council. That will get the district by in the short run. In the long run the District will need about $250,000 a year from the Town.

Fire District Board Member John Vail told the Council, “It’s been coming for a long time but it’s finally caught up with us.”

For years as property values decreased so did revenue. Right now the district takes in about $672,000 a year. That’s not enough to cover costs. A major part of the problem is that the fire district serves well beyond its official boundaries and there’s no way to recover costs. Valle has no fire department and when there is an accident along highway 64, the Tusayan Fire District responds.

The Arizona Department of Transportation owns the Grand Canyon Airport, but if there is a fire or medical call on one of the buildings on airport land, the Tusayan Fire District responds.

ADOT pays no fire taxes. Neither does Valle. It’s the same situation for Highway 64. Lots of services are needed but there’s no way to recover those costs.

On February 4th, the council  voted in favor of the $75,000 in emergency funding and members are open to long term help. Councilman Bill Fitzgerald said, “We can certainly afford $75,000 but we need to look at a long term solution.”

That solution will be hard to come by. In addition to the shortfall, the District is also dealing with the planned retirement of Chief Robert Evans. He generally does the work of three people and finding one person to replace him is a tall order.