The Lake Mohave Ranchos Fire District (LMRFD) has been restored to fiscal solvency but its future remains very much unknown. The District was more than $700,000 in the hole when its board was dissolved some 30 months ago.
John Flynn was hired as special administrator for the LMRFD and he cut staff, liquidated assets and contracted with the Kingman-based Northern Arizona Fire District (NACFD) to oversee the provision of service. The LMRFD has been in the black for months and the question to be decided is whether it consolidates with NACFD or elects its own five member board to decide how fire protection service should be provided to the residents of Dolan Springs and Meadview.
Flynn had hoped to achieve consolidation quick, clean and simple with a unanimous vote of the NACFD Board that the law requires. But Flynn told Board members during their meeting that he understood they were not unanimously supportive of the proposition and that he was recommending a special elections process in the alternative.
Meadview resident Bobby Porzio told Flynn he was disappointed with the special election approach.
“I’m just really upset. I’ve known John and I know he feels this I the way to go,” Porzio said. “But I totally disagree and I hate to see what’s going to happen.”
What’s going to happen is voters will reject the merger proposal, said Dolan Springs resident Frank Geraci. He said the complexities of consolidation and fear of the unknown guarantee its defeat at the ballot box.
“I’m afraid that people are just going to vote no,” Geraci said. “It’s going to go down and it’s going to go down in flames.”
NACFD Board members Patti Lewis and Mike Collins also said they thought consolidation would be rejected in a special election that could cost about $16,000 to conduct by mail.
Board member Victor Riccardi said its important for everyone to try to determine what are the pros and cons, benefits and detriments associated with consolidation. He said he has to consider whether bringing the smaller LMRFD into NACFD presents a burden to his constituents.
“Are we taking in a crippled child,” Riccardi queried. “How is this going to benefit us?”
Flynn said citizens of both districts could become fully informed of all the issues before special elections would be held in each district in May. Approvals would be required in both fire districts or consolidation would fail at the ballot box.
The NACFD board will reconsider consolidation at its September meeting. Options include advancing the proposal to special election next spring or declining and letting the LMRFD elect its own board.
Vince Salmu, President of the Chamber of Commerce in Dolan Springs, said he hopes additional consideration could lead to consolidation by a united NACFD board.
“If it was my choice today, I would say please help us out. Please take us in and consolidate,” Salmu said.