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Archive for June, 2011

14th June
written by Nelli Machi
9th June
written by Arizona Kid

Mike Letcher:

Craig, Appreciate your question and understand the economic impact that this recession has had on businesses, individuals, and this community. The City had eliminated 1,100 positions in the past three years with pay and benefit reductions. This has resulted in 7-10% paycheck reductions. Over 60% of our General Fund budget goes to public safety and it is essential that we keep Police and Fire salaries and benefits competitive. To sum up, City employees are making historic sacrifices and working alot harder with fewer people.

Comment From Rob ODell Rob ODell : ]

How many of those position eliminated were from layoffs and how many were simply the elimination of positions through attrition? Also, what makes up the 7 percent to 10 percent pay reductions you cited? Furloughs are only about 3 percent of salary, correct? Is the rest increased benefit costs?

Mike Letcher:

Rob, Appreciate the question. 51 positions were layoffs in FY 2011; the rest were through attrition. Furloughs are 3.5% of salary; increased pension costs for public safety were 2.65%, and all employees are incurring medical cost increases. All new hires (non public safety ) since 7/1/06, also pay more for their pension.

7th June
written by Arizona Kid

Marana versus Pima County… the wastewater war …who will be King of the Valley?

by Hugh Holub on Jun. 06, 2011, 

From the Arizona Daily Star June 5, 2011:

Josh Brodesky: Destiny, power are at center of stink over wastewater plant

Marana, with its visions of growth, wants to build out across the valley and into neighboring Pinal County. But to control its own destiny, it must control its own sewage.

Only in Arizona can one town’s destiny be inextricably bound to sewage.

“The reason they want the plant is because in Arizona, the law is the treater of the wastewater owns the effluent,” Huckelberry told me.

And effluent has value. It can displace the use of drinkable water for irrigation. It can replenish aquifers and generate state credits. It can help to assure water supplies for the development Marana craves.


And there is lots more about this story…..

Some historical context…I was directly involved in some of this…

Back in the 1970′s there was a lawsuit between city of Tucson and Pima County Sanitary District # 1 whereby Tucson was challenging Pima’s ability to be in the sewer business outside the city limits to the northwest.

As a general rule in Arizona cities provide both water and wastewater service inside and can do this outside their city limits.

Tucson, through a series of condemnation and purchases, was headed in the direction of being the regional water provider in eastern Pima County…with as much water service area outside its city limits as inside. Tucson was building a water empire as it were.

But the control of growth density is more a function of sewer service…without a sewer system an area can only be developed at 1 home per acre or larger lots…to get 4 homes per acre you must have a sewer collection and treatment system.

Thus the northwest area was growing like mad because Pima was expanding its sewer system out there…which at the time was served by 3 private water companies–Metropolitan Water Company, Canada Hills Water Company and Rancho Vistoso Water Company.
Neither Marana or Oro Valley had taken on the role of being municipal water providers.

As noted in the Star article, under Arizona case law (John F Long case) he who owns the wastewater treatment plant owns the effluent it produces.

In 1977-79 Tucson negotiated an intergovernmental agreement with Pima (finalized in 1979) whereby Tucson turned over its sewer system inside its city limits to Pima, dropped its lawsuit against Pima Sanitary District #1, and pushed for and got an amendment to state law allowing counties (only Pima) to go into the wastewater business. No other county in the state has this authority and never will. I handled the wrap-up of the lawsuit between Tucson and Pima and wrote the language that became state law giving Pima sewer authority.

The 1979 Intergovernmental Agreement between Tucson and Pima County was concentrated on the ownership of the effluent…Tucson kept ownership and control of 90% of the effluent in Pima County wastewater treatment plants…whether the wastewater originated from Tucson Water or elsewhere.

Pima subsequently got peeved over Tucson’s control of the effluent…because Tucson was allowing large amounts of effluent to be discharged into the Santa Cruz River triggering ADEQ and EPA mandates to upgrade the Ina Road and Roger Road wastewater treatment plants at a cost of hundreds of millions….and Pima could not sell the effluent to help pay for these upgrades.

Tucson refused to budge on effluent control.

Tucson has constructed one of the country’s largest reclaimed water systems and has been moving strong for decades in reuse of effluent.

In the 1990s both Marana and Oro Valley had elections and their voters empowered the towns to go into the municipal water utility business. Marana promptly bought out the Cortaro-Marana municipal water system, and other private water companies. I represented Marana in the negotiations to buy out CMID.

Oro Valley bought Canada Hills and Rancho Vistoso Water companies. I represented the two water companies in their sale to Oro Valley.

Metropolitan Water Company was initially bought by Tucson and then they sold it to the newly formed (then) Metropolitan Domestic Water Improvement District.

So…by the end of the 1990′s Tucson’s ambition of being the regional water provider had been broken by Marana and OV going into the municipal water business and taking control of their water destinies. Tucson gave up a portion of its empire in the Northwest Area when it sold Met Water to the district.

Meanwhile Tucson had gotten control of the Continental Ranch water service area and agreed to serve what is now called Dive Mountain…both now inside Marana’s town limits.

Marana has been fussing with Tucson in an effort to buy out Tucson’s Continental Ranch and Dove Mountain water systems so Marana can control all water service inside its town limits…and Tucson has fought this. Similar issue…how much does Marana pay for system which were built with money from developers…not Tucson ratepayers.

Legally Marana has the authority to condemn Tucson Water’s utility systems inside Marana’s town limits.

Back to Pima….there are lots of frustrations with Pima’s decisions about wastewater plant locations and effluent access. For example, in Vail that development wanted its own wastewater treatment plant in Vail so the effluent could be used to irrigate the golf course there. Pima County said no and forced the developer to connect Vail to the regional system…thus wastewater from Vail ends up at the Pima treatment plants on the northwest side of Tucson under Tucson’s control.

In Sahuarita Pima County demanded that wastewater from that project (Rancho Sahuarita) be put in a pipe through or around the San Xavier Indian Reservation so that effluent would also end up on the northwest side of Tucson and under Tucson’s control.

Sahuarita fought this and managed to get an EPA 208 plan amendment and went into the sewer business…the only city or town in Pima that has this authority.
Sahuarita is now moving towards an election to empower that town to be in the municipal water business and buy out Rancho Sahuarita water company. If that happens Sahuarita will be the first town in Pima with both control over water and wastewater. Obviously Marana is headed in the same direction and you can bet OV will follow.

Note…it is the norm in Arizona for cities and towns to have their own wastewater systems…Pima is the exception.

Efluent is hugely important as a water resource..either as a substitute for potable water use on golf courses or as a source of groundwater replenishment credits.

In Prescott Valley that town sold off its effluent recharge credits and raised $20 million or so to fund its wastewater treatment plant.

There are 2 sources of renewable water here…CAP and effluent.

He who controls wastewater and effluent controls growth.

Thus we have Tucson controlling effluent for its benefit and Pima controlling wastewater plant and sewer system access inside other jurisdictions…this is not the norm in Arizona.

Both Pima and Tucson have visions of being in control of growth and development in eastern Pima County…and attack Marana, OV and Sahuarita because these areas are competing with Tucson and Pima over growth control.
While there are obviously political interests behind both the Pima government and city of Tucson about growth control…this is a jurisdictional war with the emerging towns. Put directly…Tucson and Pima and residents of neighborhood activists in central Tucson are never going to control the destiny of the surround area outside Tucson’s city limits. That is precisely why new towns get formed…so local residents control their future…not someone else far away.

We’re about 20-30 years behind what happened in Maricopa county with the emergence of strong satellite cities around Phoenix which had their own water and wastewater control, annexed a lot of land for growth, and built Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Chandler…etc into powerhouse communities in their own right. By 2020 one or two of the Phoenmix satellite cities will have more people than city of Tucson.

Besides the water and wastewater fights there is athird one been going on for a long time…incorporation of new towns outside Tucson…Tucson has had a state law based 6 mile “kill zone” in which they could block incorporation of new towns. Tucson has always fought against creation of new towns on its edge.
Years ago legislation was passed (at the urging of Pima County interestingly) to open the door to new town creation here…but the courts shot that down at Tucson’s urging.

New legislation was passed last session to remove the 6 mile kill zone so Vail and several other new towns could incorporate on the fringes of Tucson…besides Vail think Catalina Foothills, the Northwest area, Drexel Heights., Picture Rocks…Corona de Tucson….

Interesting the existing towns all have ambitious annexation plans and probably land on Tucson’s side of not wanting it to be too easy for new towns to incorporate.
But there is not an alliance between Tucson and the existing towns because Tucson took Pima’s side in the wastewater/effluent fight and blocked the PAG 208 plan amendment for Marana to be in the wastewater business.
Instead of creating the obvious alliance of southern Arizona cities and towns to look out for municipal interests…Tucson has gone its own strange way thinking it is the only city in the region and fighting against all the other cities and towns.

One of these days Tucson is going to finally figure out that trying to control effluent originating from Oro Valley, Marana and Green Valley/Sahuarita is not worth the political damage at the state lkevelst and take the side of the existing towns and unite to bust Pima County out of the growth control business. Tucson needs to side with Marana to and break up Pima’s regional wastewater deal in favor of town control. The only question is when that finally happens.

There are lots of interesting side effects to this fight… we have more people living in unincorporated areas of Pima than Maricopa county does…and as a consequence the cities and towns here do not get as much state revenue share as do valley cities. Pima has tried many times to get an urban allocation of state revenue share for the unincorporated areas here and failed…because the state-wide municipal interests see what happened here as an aberration and will never change state law. Instead the state response is to try and figure out a way to allow more new towns to incorporate. here.

I anticipate eventually a change in annexation laws to make it easier for existing cities and towns here to annex the surrounding urbanized areas. For example, whever a city or town is providing water service to an unincorporated area it can automatically annex that area, or charge double the water rates and connection fees. If anyone wants out…they would have to have 50% of the voters to sign and 51% of the property owners by number and valuation….that’s my guess based on a fire district de-annexation law.

Pima’s record for wastewater plant siting…and the loss of effluent from the non-city of Tucson sources…is a major problem and the towns are dug in to get that control.

And there are lots of nuances about “cost”….people in Green Valley pay a regional rate for connections to the sewer system and for user fees treatment even though they are served by a primitive lagoon system…not a huge new plant…so they are subsidizing Tucson and other Pima residents.

And if the bulk of all new wastewater treatment capacity is being funded from connection fees (these are impact fees) and not from sewer user fees…Pima’s argument fails in Marana. Pima’s sewer users did not pay…the developers did.

And so what if sewer connection fees in the surrounding towns ends up higher than what Pima charges…a claim Pima makes to oppose Marana.
So what if Pima’s fees have to go up because they lost the ability to charge new development in Marana or Green Valley for the cost of upgrading the Roger Road WWTP and Pima’s fees increase? Growth must pay for itself whatever the cost.
Indeed probably over all costs will increase to new development in Pima as well as in the towns if they are in the wastewater business…so what?
The homebuilders won’t like this…but taxpayers and ratepayers should love this.

The real deal is control of the effluent for renewable water supplies…Pima does not control the effluent…Tucson does…and no one is going to let Tucson control effluent originating with town water utilities.
Tucson needs to quit aiding and abetting Chuck Huckelberry’s growth management kingdom and start thinking like a city…and recognize its future lies in working with surround cities and towns.
Huckelberry has turned into a self-appointed growth control czar and actually counties should have very little to do with growth management as this is why we have cities and towns.
That will probably happen when Rio Nuevo builds a new convention hotel downtown or when the next ice Age begins…whichever comes first.

4th June
written by Arizona Kid

As we edge into Obama’s third year of his administration it’s important to draw some parallels to another trans formative President and compare some policies and outcomes. Both Reagan and Obama inherited an economy in trouble.  Reagan inherited a Democratic administration mess signified with high unemployment, high interest rates and high inflation. Obama inherited a complete melt down of the financial and housing markets which sparked a massive shedding of jobs by the private sector.

How both men approached the solution shows their ideologies and their willingness to risk it all to prove their points. Both administrations came in with a roar and lost major political ground in the mid term elections just two years into their presidencies. That’s were the similarities stop.

Reagan moved quickly to reduce federal spending on run away programs, federal spending on non-defense sectors. Obama primed the government spending pump by spending on government. The ballooning of the bureaucracy is growing to epic proportions.  An alarming stat from the WSJ:

Today in America there are nearly twice as many people working for the government (22.5 million) than in all of manufacturing (11.5 million). This is an almost exact reversal of the situation in 1960, when there were 15 million workers in manufacturing and 8.7 million collecting a paycheck from the government.

It gets worse. More Americans work for the government than work in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined. We have moved decisively from a nation of makers to a nation of takers.

Reagan took on the Federal Air Traffic Controller and Obama takes over GM to save the union heavy auto maker, fights Boeings ability to flee to right to work states.

Reagan runs up the deficit spending credit card to build up the military which eventually ended the Cold War. Obama talks about restoring our decaying infrastructure and resurrecting the Conservation Corp of the Great Depression era and ended up squandering $787 billion on bridges to no where, high speed rail systems that are getting shot down by governors in states that aren’t buying into the pork. Under Obama we saw ‘Cash For Clunkers’, ‘Cash for Cualkers’.  The Coburn-McCain report slammed the wasteful stimulus package for juicy nuggets like:

The Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center was awarded $71,623 to study what the report calls, “Monkeys Getting High for Science.”

Bonnie Davis, a spokeswoman for The Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, said the “small grant has helped protect very important research that will have significant impact on public health in regards to cocaine addiction and the issue of relapse.”

Go a little further down the list and you’ll find even bigger spending. The California Academy of Sciences is receiving nearly $1 million in stimulus funds to send researchers to the Southwest Indian Ocean Islands and East Africa to capture, photograph and analyze thousands of exotic ants.

PHOTO Republicans allege Obama's stimulus project has
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

There’s also funding for yoga and hot flashes. Researchers at Wake Forest University have received nearly $300,000 to study whether integral yoga “can be an effective method to reduce the frequency and/or severity of hot flashes” in breast cancer survivors.

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Reagan reduced regulations which told the business community that the American market was going to welcome their entreprenurial spirit and encourage them to get back to work. Obama on the other hand flirted with Cap and Trade and used the long arm of the EPA to mandate coal fired energy production and attempt to move the country towards solar and other inefficient alternative energy sources.

As if our brief history lessons and comparisons aren’t example enough of how incredibly off the Obama administration’s policies are, let’s take a look at the United States health care industry. Health care makes up 20% of the US economy  and it’s just received a major governmental partner in virtually every aspect of it’s delivery, billing, R&D and administration.  Health care reform is the holy grail of Progressive politics.  Clinton tried and ultimately failed to get a health care overhaul bid through the legislative process. Obama  learned two valuable lessons from Bill, don’t let Hilary anywhere near the process and move quick while your political capital is at it’s peak.

Even with super majorities in Congress what came out of the Potomac meat grinder was a health care bill that was loaded with new bureaucracies, new government oversights and new hurdles to jump through. The ‘bending of the cost curve’ discussion was thrown out the window and replaced with ‘we are from the government and here to help’.  Why would we be skeptic of a Federal take over of 20% of our economy? Look no further than the US Postal Service for your answer.

Both Reagan and Obama have had two years to implement their plans. Both lost big in the mid term and both were under criticism for their policies. Reagan set the table for the private sector to roar back with 20 years of prosperity.  Even the stock market melt down of 1987 (bigger than the correction of 2009) rolled through as no more than a blip on the two decades of prosperity.  The policies Obama has put in to place have frozen the private sector. There is more money sitting on the sidelines in the private sector than any time in history. When small businesses or multinational conglomorates experience and uncertain marketplace they sit and wait. No one will put capital at risk until their is certainty. From the dry cleaner on the corner to the major pharmacutical company, the messages coming out of the Obama Administration point to the the private sector being a necessary evil rather than an important partner in our economic recovery.
If Obama sees another term look for America to experience a Japan like ‘Lost Decade’.
From a 1983 report on Reagan’s policies mid term:

Liberal media wrong about economy.

By Edwin Feulner – The Southeat Missourian

…..For better or for worse, more than two an one half years into the Reagan administration, the nations economic policies – while still a hodgepodge, confusing, and in some cases counterproductive are generally modeled along the lines Ronald Reagan proposed as a presidential candidate. Taxes have been reduced; government spending increases have been slowed; the regulatory burden has been eased somewhat. The mix would be far  different in an ideal world; but Washington is far from that.

In other words, whether Sam Donaldson of ABC-TV or Horbart Rowen of the Washington Post like it or not, the economic program is more similar than dissimilar to what we called Reaganomics three years ago.

If its working, it’s Reaganomics we can credit; if it’s failing, Reaganomics gets the blame.

Is the program working:……

–          Sales of domestic autos were at a 7.2 million rat in July, up by more than 40% over the 5.1 million rate of June 1982.

–          More than 74% of manufacturing, mining and utilities capacity was in use in June, up seven percent from November, when the recession was at its worse.

–          The University of Michigan index of consumer confidence soared to 93% in May-June, it’s highest level in 10 years. People are optimistic about their current and future economic situation and about the prospects for the economy as a whole.

–          Consumer spending, adjusted for inflation, surged 10% annual rate during the second quarter – the largest quarterly increase in two decades.

–          The civilian unemployment rate fell to 9.5% in July and August from a high of 10.8% last December – falling a full one-half percent in July alone. New claims for unemployment insurance, moreover, were down to 388,000 during the first four weeks of July. Lowest since July 1979.

–          New housing starts were at a 1.7 million unit annual rate in June, up 92% from a year earlier.

Much to the dismay of the gloom and doomers, inflation remains firmly in control. Interest rates are well below earlier peaks, as well.

The bottom line is that economic recovery is gaining momentum. Real GNP grew at an annual rate of 8.7% in the second quarter – far higher than forecast, and three times greater than 2.6% rate in the first quarter.

The limousine liberals in the news media have willed failure on the Reagan economic program from the beginning. The only thing that has failed, however, is their creditability.

1st June
written by admin

Pressure on Bronson grows over annexation

Posted: Tuesday, August 9, 2011 7:24 pm | Updated: 7:36 pm, Tue Aug 9, 2011.
By Philip Franchine Green Valley News | 4 comments

The Pima County Board of Supervisors is poised to deny the Green Valley Fire District annexation of northern Sahuarita on Monday, but not before it likely faces an angry crowd at its Monday meeting.

The board approved Green Valley’s annexation bid earlier this year but now appears ready to kill it, citing format flaws in the petitions the department circulated.

Local residents insist the petition errors are minor and that the will of the homeowners is clear. Most have targeted Supervisor Sharon Bronson with angry emails and phone calls after she switched her vote to no Aug. 2, in effect dooming the plan. The board has one more vote on Monday and that’s the one that counts.
Bronson, whose District 3 includes Rancho Resort, said technical flaws in the petition format caused her to question their legal validity, prompting her to change her vote.
Some residents aren’t buying her reasoning.
“I, my family and as many neighbors as I can get to go with me will be at the Board of Supervisors meeting and I plan to give them a piece of my mind at the time,” Sahuarita resident Linda Cooper said Tuesday. “Perhaps I can clarify to Ms. Bronson the will of the people at that time since she seems to be a little foggy on that aspect.”
Rancho Sahuarita resident Gerard Manse said he was “flabbergasted” to learn Bronson had switched and voted against the annexation. He says he has written Bronson and Supervisor Richard Elias, who also voted against the annexation.
“I think what they are doing is denying the wish of the people that signed the petitions. As far as certain words being capped or uncapped, I think that’s a bunch of nonsense. It’s not the point.”
Resident Brad Richwine said, “The majority of the residents and land holders have voted with their signatures to approve the annexation.”
Supervisor Ray Carroll, who represents Green Valley and voted in favor of the annexation, urged supporters to go to the meeting Monday and be heard.
County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry in an Aug. 1 memo said supervisors would have to decide whether the words Volunteer and Paid Circulator not being capitalized on petitions “is so serious a flaw that it renders all the petition signatures invalid.”
Huckelberry said two errors in the legal description amounted to “scriveners errors,” and said firefighters who wrote “on duty” instead of checking Paid Circulator complied with state law and said the petition “clearly” complied with the law on other issues.
Future coverage
If annexation is denied, there is no legal guarantee the area will have fire coverage after next fall, Sahuarita Town Attorney Dan Hochuli said this week. Hochuli told the Sahuarita Sun that the current provider, Rural/Metro Fire Department, could leave after its agreement with the town and GVFD expires Nov. 3, 2012, or even before.
Rural/Metro Fire Chief Tom Brandhuber told the county board, “Rural/Metro has no intention of leaving after 2012. The IGA (inter-governmental agreement) simply spells out our agreement to provide service to that date.”
However, Hochuli said there is no way to prevent Rural/Metro from leaving and if that happened, GVFD would serve the area by subscription, as set out in the agreement, but GVFD would have to serve the area from a distance and would likely have slower response times.
Bronson speaks out
Bronson defended her position in interviews and in an email to residents, saying that after Rural/Metro sued over format issues and a judge sent the matter back to the board, she now has to consider format flaws.
The Clerk of the Board found that a majority of property owners had signed the petitions and Bronson said that in May supervisors simply accepted that finding, but on advice of a GVFD attorney they did not consider the format issues.
In e-mail form letters sent to residents who contacted her office this week, Bronson said, “Green Valley asked us to not review the form of the petitions claiming that our only responsibility was to confirm the number of signatures. We once again gave Green Valley the benefit of the doubt and approved the number of signatures without a review of the petition forms. A Superior Court judge then returned the petitions to us stating that yes we do legally have to review the sufficiency of the forms of the petitions as well. It is only at this extraordinary point that I was no longer able to support Green Valley.”
However, board met with its attorney in private to consider the validity of the petitions before the May 3 vote.
At that time, Bronson said, “Our attorneys have indicated, as has the Clerk of the Board, that on the face of it, the Green Valley Fire District petitions have met the requirements.”
When asked about the apparent discrepancy during a second interview Monday, Bronson said the County Attorney’s office offered arguments on both sides of the issue and did not give a definitive response.
Asked if she thought those who signed the petitions had been deceived by the petition flaws, Bronson said she would not comment because she has no way to know that and doesn’t expect to ask residents about that before Monday’s meeting.
Supervisor Ann Day, who voted yes, said, “I think we are missing the point. Yes, on the form they did sloppy work, but we ratified on 50 percent-plus-one. All these other sloppy format issues, I don’t think are up to the board to base our decision on.”
Bronson said “I couldn’t agree with you more, but the judge sent it back.”
In her note to several Sahuarita residents, Bronson wrote, “While it may be true that some errors are made in almost all annexation attempts, the level of errors and discrepancies in Green Valley’s petitions and process simply makes it impossible for me to determine the ‘will of the people.’”

Petitions have history of flaws
An examination by the Sahuarita Sun of previous fire annexation petitions approved by the Pima County Board of Supervisors include the following flaws and variations in formats:
•No circulator checked either Paid or Volunteer on the 16-page Northwest Fire District Rillito annexation that was approved by the county board May 10, 2011.
•None of the petitions had a listing for Paid or Volunteer circulator on the Mescal J-6 annexation near Benson approved by the Pima County Board on Aug. 16, 2010. Those petitions also did not include the state-required warning that it is a Class 1 misdemeanor to knowingly provide false information.
•On two of the seven pages, both Volunteer and Paid circulator were checked on the Golder Ranch La Cholla annexation approved May 17, 2011.
•None of the petition sheets had a listing for Paid or Volunteer circulator on the GVFD Camino de La Canoa annexation that was approved by the supervisors Nov. 18, 2008. Nor did the GVFD  Madera Reserve annexation that was approved Nov. 21, 2000, by the supervisors.

Fire annexation must go back to county

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Posted: Saturday, May 28, 2011 1:30 pm | Updated: 6:37 am, Tue May 31, 2011.
By Philip Franchine, www.gvnews.com | 0 comments
Green Valley Fire District’s bid to annex north Sahuarita took a hit a Friday when Superior Court Judge Kenneth Lee ordered that the matter go back to the County Board of Supervisors.
Lee said the supervisors’ May 3 approval of the annexation was invalid, as the board failed to follow state law in scrutinizing the annexation petitions.

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The fire district had been preparing to begin providing fire service on Friday to the annexation area, which is north and west of Anamax Park and inside the town limits.
Meanwhile, Rural/Metro Fire Department, a for-profit company operating on a subscription basis, will continue to provide service there to its current subscribers, though renewing customers are being asked to pay no more than a month at a time or beyond June 30.
However, Rural/Metro is not accepting new subscriptions. That means people who would like to start new subscriptions run the risk of paying the non-subscriber rate for fire response, which could be $10,000 or more for a house or garage fire.
The next meetings of the Board of Supervisors are June 7 and 21, but a spokeswoman for the Clerk of the Board said the matter has not been placed on an agenda.
Green Valley Fire Chief Simon Davis said he was “frustrated” by the delay but said the district would “vigorously defend” the annexation and was optimistic it would be approved again by the supervisors, noting that the annexation petitions were signed by a majority of property owners in the annexation area.
Lee ruled that Rural/Metro Fire Department had legal standing to file the challenge because its fire subscription business in northern Sahuarita makes it an “interested party” under state law. He also accepted Rancho Sahuarita Co.’s motion, filed Tuesday, to join the challenge as a property owner and interested party.
Davis said in a press release, “For the financial interest of both Rural Metro and Mr. Sharpe (of Rancho Sahuarita) to be considered and to supersede the will of the majority of the people is not the intent of the petition process, the statute, or the law.”
The attorney for Rural/Metro and Rancho Sahuarita, Kimberly Demarchi of the Lewis & Roca law firm, said she was pleased with the ruling. Demarchi said she hoped the supervisors would address Rural/Metro’s objections. The company asserts that the format of the petitions do not conform to state law and there are errors in the legal description, making the petitions invalid, but Lee did not tackle those issues.
GVFD’s attorney, Donna Aversa of the Leonard & Felker law firm, argues that the form of the petitions meets the “substantial compliance” requirement in state law.
Demarchi said that does not apply to Rural/Metro’s objection about the legal description.
Demarchi told the court that the supervisors simply ratified the action of the Clerk of the County Board in counting the signatures on annexation petitions and did not consider the form of the petitions or the legal description. Demarchi said Aversa told the supervisors that their role was not to question the recommendation of the clerk of the board.
Lee said under state law, “it goes beyond the Board of Supervisors just verifying the number of signatures. If the Board of Supervisors hasn’t made a determination on the validity of the petitions, under Ms. Aversa’s advice, then the Board of Supervisors hasn’t done what they are supposed to do. The Board of Supervisors has not fulfilled its statutory obligation.”
Aversa said, “I wish I could advise the Board of Supervisors. The Board of Supervisors did have independent legal counsel” at the May 3 meeting, referring to a deputy county attorney.
Lee said, “I will grant a preliminary injunction (blocking the annexation) until Board of Supervisors complies with statute and makes a determination on the validity of the petitions.”
Lee set no time limit for the supervisors to act.
The petitions were signed by more than 2,600 property owners, representing a majority of property owners in the annexation area and a majority of property by assessed value.
RM argues the legal description attached to the petitions contained two errors, one describing a location that was inaccurate by two feet and one using a location in Tucson instead of Sahuarita as a reference point. Many petition pages also failed to indicate if the person circulating the petitions was a volunteer or was being paid and included wording in a smaller typeface than set forth in state law.
Aversa began to ask for disclosure of some “issues with Mr. Sharpe” of Rancho Sahuarita, referring to the lease agreement between RM and Rancho Sahuarita and details of how much the fire company charges Rancho Sahuarita, but the judge cut her off. Bob Sharpe is the developer of Rancho Sahuarita.
The supervisors’ voting record has been inconsistent in two votes on the annexation issue.
In April, the supervisors voted 3 to 1 to continue the matter to May 3 to allow GVFD to submit more petitions, with Supervisor Ann Day voting no. Day said she thought GVFD could not obtain a continuance to add more petitions once the first batch were submitted. Supervisor Richard Elias voted yes because the deputy county attorney present would advise the board on that issue at the next meeting.
On May 3, Day voted for annexation, while Elias voted no.
In both votes, yes votes were cast by Ray Carroll, who represents Green Valley, and Sharon Bronson, who represents nearby areas. Board Chairman Ramon Valadez abstained because he works for Rural/Metro. Valadez represents part of Rancho Sahuarita.
GVFD would need three votes to win, as a 2-2 tie would not result in annexation being approved.
pfranchine@gvnews.com |547-9738

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