Fire district board member resigns

North County Fire & Medical District firefighters run through a simulation of responding to a call at Fire Station 101, 19001 N. Camino del Sol, Sun City West.

By Matt Roy, Independent Newsmedia

North County Fire & Medical District Governing Board member Jack Meyer resigned last week after serving nearly 11 years at the organization.

NCFMD Assistant Chief Mary Dalton said the board will appoint someone to fill in until it can find a permanent replacement for Mr. Meyer.

“According to Arizona Revised Statutes, if a vacancy occurs on the district board other than from expiration of a term, the remaining board members shall fill the vacancy by appointment of an interim member,” Ms. Dalton stated by email. “The open position shall be filled within 90 days after the date the vacancy occurs.”

The law does not, however, dictate a specific process to appoint a new board member. The board will take up the issue at its next regular meeting 9 a.m. Thursday, March 16 at the NCFMD administrative office, 18818 N. Spanish Garden Drive.

Mr. Meyers’ resignation came only days after the district board voted to enter into a Joint Powers Authority with Sun Lakes Fire District, a move supporters said will save money by reducing administrative overhead (“Valley fire districts team up to cut costs,” Sun City West Independent, March 8, 2017).

Though his official resignation letter cites only personal reasons for his exit, in answer to questions from the Independent Mr. Meyer questioned the efficiency and decisions of governing boards in general.

“It is my opinion that local governments being controlled by the use of governing boards works against the grain of efficiency for the residents and taxpayers of our communities,” Mr. Meyer stated in an email. “The reason I say that is because governing boards comprised of residents are, for the most part, unfamiliar and/or uneducated in the function the boards are sworn to oversee.”

He added it is true not only of the fire board, but also the recreation board, as well as all departmental governing boards of other quasi governments.

“I’m not faulting the voluntary boards, I’m faulting the system,” he added.

Because governing boards are comprised of residents inexperienced in the businesses they oversee, they rely too heavily on the head of the department for guidance, according to Mr. Meyer.

“Therefore the board members of our fire department use as their authority on any issue, the fire chief,” he stated. “Just one hypothetic example would be, if the fire chief desires to combine our department with another fire department. To whom do the members of the governing board go to for advice on the proposal? Of course, the fire chief. It’s no surprise, after some discussion, the proposal passes because the fire chief wanted it and has the opportunity to promote it.”

In the case of the Sun Lakes JPA, the board commissioned an independent firm to study the issue. A published white paper detailing the results of their research claims NCFMD and Sun Lakes will save money by sharing some administrative functions and eliminating redundancies and overhead.

NCFMD board member Dawn Miller cited the results of that study to justify her support for the measure at the district’s Feb. 28 meeting.

“The numbers are there,” Ms. Miller said. “It’s factual data. This is what it is.”

Mr. Meyer cast the only “no” vote from either of the two districts’ boards. The Sun Lakes board approved the JPA unanimously later that afternoon.

Future plans

Mr. Meyer stated his years on the fire board have been both rewarding and disappointing.

“My goal has always been to provide the best services the fire department provides with the least amount of taxes,” Mr. Meyer stated.

Some of the most rewarding times of his fire board service were those when he would receive thanks and appreciation over the phone from residents grateful for a stand he had taken on an issue to keep taxes down, he added.

Mr. Meyer said he plans to focus on family and take advantage of the community’s many amenities.

“My health is still relatively good yet. I now hope to be able experience some relaxing enjoyable times with my loving wife, Marcia, possibly do a little traveling, and to enjoy the amenities that Sun City West offers,” Mr. Meyer stated. “It has sincerely been a pleasure to have had the endorsement of the many fine people of Sun City West. God bless them all.”

Visit www.ncfmd.az.gov.

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