Green Valley Fire District Board approves next step toward annexation
District can start the circulation of petitions to northern Sahuarita residents.
TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - The Green Valley Fire District Board approved the North Sahuarita Annexation Boundary Change Impact Statement on Thursday night, April 13.
Northern Sahuarita residents packed town hall to voice their opinions on the proposed boundary change.
“I’ve lived in this area for ... 33 years, I know the Green Valley Fire Department and I know they can provide us with the quality that we need and that we deserve,” Sahuarita resident Mary Fisher said.
The annexation comes as Rural Metro decided to stop providing services in the town due to financial reasons.
Green Valley Fire District Chief Chuck Wunder said Rural Metro has been extremely helpful in the transition process.
“They have been really proactive about making sure that there’s adequate fire protection during this transition time,” Wunder said. “We certainly don’t want to leave anybody without it. We don’t want long response times. So I’m very grateful for the collaboration, not only with the Rural Metro but also with the town of Sahuarita.”
Currently, Green Valley Fire District provides fire and emergency services to southern Sahuarita. Under the annexation, over 8,000 property owners of northern Sahuarita and adjoining parts of Pima County would be brought under its jurisdiction.
“We protect half of the community already. So it’s natural for us to make that progression ... and protect the remaining part of the town,” Wunder said.
With approval from the board of directors, petitions can be distributed to residents.
“We need to go parcel by parcel, homeowner by homeowner, business owner by business owner, and ask them for their support in this annexation. State statute requires that 50% plus one of the total parcel owners in the area and 50% plus one of the total assessed value for the area has to be accomplished through those signatures,” Wunder said.
Once the petitions are distributed, they will have a year in which to complete the annexation. But Wunder hopes to have this done by October. He plans to hold community events over the coming months to make it easier for property owners, not renters, to sign.
While this next step has been approved, there were still some questions and concerns among residents about current manned stations, subscriptions with Rural Metro, and the tax increase.
But despite their concerns, mainly over the tax increase, most were in agreement that the extra fee is worth the protection.
“Of course, this concerns me, and at this point in my life, I’m on a fixed income. Anything that increases my cost of living is of great concern to me. However, the value in having a reliable fire department to protect and serve us is certainly worth the investment,” Fisher said.
District officials estimate it will see nearly $3.8 million in tax revenue.
Wunder also said that with this annexation they will be bringing in resources and programs already in place for southern Sahuarita. One of those programs is the Community Fire Corps, made up of nearly 70 volunteers.
“They will bring those kinds of services up to the north, where people can sign up for our smoke alarm programs, our battery programs, our lockbox programs,” Wunder said. “We bring an extensive amount of experience related to public education, and so we will be integrated with the schools and being able to support the teachers and the staffs in those areas with fire prevention, education, public safety.”
During the meeting, Wunder said he expects all services to be in place by July 2024.
For residents looking to calculate how much they will be paying in taxes or how they can sign the petition, you can find more information on the Green Valley Fire District website here.
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