Residents flock to defend Buckskin Fire Chief

“This place is gonna rumble” -Crowd member

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An agenda item that appeared on the October 8th meeting of the Buckskin Fire District Board drew a strong response from members of the public, and led to one person being asked to leave the meeting.

“Approve/Deny to Promote, Demote, Hire, Terminate, Reprimand, Appraise or Suspend Chris Chambers, Fire Chief”, agenda item 16, was the reason for a packed meeting that evening, and for the heated exchanges that occurred as people came to the defense of Chief Chambers.

“The average number of people at our meetings is 5 or 6 maybe,” said board member Greg Bachmann afterwards. And at this one? “I’m guessing 50.”

The elected board, which controls the $1.9 million budget of the Buckskin Fire Department, is made up of 5 people: Greg Bachmann, Jeff Daniel, Robert Gory, Monty Rust and Gary Svider.

Most of the comments made during the meeting’s Call to the Public were about the good job the speakers thought Buckskin Fire Department were doing, citing examples of lives saved and property protected.

“100 percent of the people here support the fantastic chief of our fire department.” -Barry Gerson

Board member Jeff Daniel admitted that he added the item, and defended its addition to the agenda without giving a reason.

“I’m the one who put it on the agenda, so if anybody wants to know, my name is Jeff Daniel,” he said. “I’m also a taxpayer within the District, been a taxpayer for over 20 years at this time. It’s nice that we finally get people who are concerned about what’s going on within the district.”

Daniel said he was concerned about the “direction” of the District and how it was being run. When a member of the public asked him why, he replied, “I don’t need to give reasons or grounds. There’s a reason for why we’re doing this. I feel it’s time for the District and the Fire Department and the Board to go in a different direction. So I’m not going to elaborate on anything else. The reason why I put this on the [agenda] is I’m going to make a motion to terminate Fire Chief Chris Chambers.”

Hearing that, the assembled crowd erupted.

Local business owner John Mihelich spoke up from the crowd: “Oh boy, I need to make a comment here.” Chairman Gary Svider responded, telling him he could not speak. “I think I probably could,” Mihelich replied. Svider retort: “You cannot make a comment.”

After a further statement from Mihelich, Svider asked him to leave, but several moments later allowed Pat Jones to speak from the crowd instead. Jones was one of the few in attendance who spoke in support of Daniel’s motion.

“Yeah this is a comment to the individuals in this room, and I’m probably not going to make a lot of friends.”

An unidentified speaker from the crowd: “You’re not!”

“If you were here to see the amount of information this board has requested from staff and never gotten it,” Jones continued. “If you were around in the budget meetings to see the board ask this staff for information on how much it costs Big Red to leave the barn, no response. […] The point is, you people are talking but you’ve never been to a board meeting, you don’t hear how frustrating it is for this board to establish a cost for anything when they get a dog and pony show constantly on how the funding happens.”

The meeting got loud as verbal altercations happened, with some questioning why Jones was giving his reasons but not Daniel, who added item 16. Others asked if it was personal.

“You wanna see my tax bill? You wanna talk about that?” – Pat Jones

Former board member Ken Tipton had a rebuttal for Jones: “I want to say that I was on the board and I quit the board because of one of the board members and Pat Jones.”

Earlier in the meeting, Tipton had accused the board members of breaching Arizona Open Meeting Law, which states that board members must discuss everything in the open and not behind closed doors.

“In order for you all to put something on an agenda that is to be discussed in an open meeting, you would think that you had discussed it, which is against the law. […] So I’m curious how this got on the agenda. Anybody want to ‘fess up to it?”

Svider said he had not seen the item before or known about it.

Ultimately the agenda item was removed when Robert Rust made a motion to remove it without voting on item 16 itself. It was seconded by Greg Bachmann. The vote to remove item 16 was 3-2 in favor, with only Daniel and Svider against. There was loud applause when the removal passed.

—–

UPDATE: John Mihelich has organized a ‘Meet The Candidates’-style event featuring a Q&A session with the invited candidates running for seats on the Buckskin Fire Board. The event is scheduled for October 30th at 5:30pm at the boathouse. Ballots for the midterm election November 4th have 6 listed candidates running for 2 seats: Jay Clagg, Glenda Gerson, Bob Gory, Dennise Jones, Pat Jones and Gary Svider.

46 comments

  1. When is it going to stop

    Seems every year we pay more for the district. Parker does pretty well with a volunteer department. Not saying up river is better off with a volunteer department, but they collect pretty good salaries for small town rural AZ…

  2. Do you guys have any idea how ridiculous you sound? You should be embarrassed by your small town shenanigans! Buckskin FD is great. Chris Chambers is great. John Mihelich is great. Certain people on this silly fire board…NOT SO GREAT!

  3. When is it going to stop

    I am not bad mouthing anyone. Facts are that compared to other jobs in area, they are on higher end of scale and taxes for district seem to go up significantly every year!

  4. this was a terrible agenda and I believe at least three board members were consulted under a coordinated effort by one of our nominees.
    I also intend to rent at my personal expense a large room at the blue water casino and invite all candidates and constituents to answer 10 questions. I’ve prepared and they will be given these questions
    15 minutes in advance of starting the meeting and will have 15 minutes to respond. We will take one question from pro buckskin fire dept and one question from the group wanting frame break changes. That way we as voters will know a) who we need to vote for and b) who we might consider recalling.
    Make no mistake this is a BFD. The BFD this one stands for Buckskin Fire Department saves LIVES (and several) and protects property.
    Let see how many lots the board members and candidates have. This could be BE the agenda item.
    Taxes are high but saving a life is priceless
    Watch for a meeting last week of October from 6 to 8 pm.!

  5. Big fish in a small pond. This is obviously personal and the “board” should fight fair. Who personally has something to gain by making this change? Who is in business with who? I would bet if you all dug a little deeper there are some back room hand shakes that have taken place along this passage. Let me guess, you all know someone who is much more qualified? Who’s business partner, nephews, cousin, son in law or side business investor would that be? Allow the man to make a living, just as you all did and then you retired and moved to Parker to live out your golden years. He has grown up in the community, cares about the community and pays taxes just like you. Remember you never know what’s going to come out of the bushes when you start shaking them. As a board give Chief Chambers the expectations in writing and let him do his job.

  6. Let me know when and I’ll post it for public info.

  7. I don’t understand?? Still being a property tax payer up river we support Chris Chambers!’ Have known him for years and years and me and Debora Coffelt support the hell outa Chris, a true local doing good!!

  8. Jeff Daniel. You should be terminated. Put that up for a vote.

  9. I was at this meeting. These guys would of tossed Chris out without first reprimanding his & telling him that they would take more serious measure’s if he didn’t give them the info requested, they went straight for termination. That’s such bullshit. If we hadn’t all been there, supporting him, svnide, danials & gory would of voted him out. So when you go to the polls, make sure & vote for Mrs Gerson. We need all the support we can get. They voted to take it off the agenda list for that meeting, but voted to put it back on the next for the next meeting.

  10. Dont know Chris , But every person has rites, You cant fire some one with out letting the public know the cause for dismissal. plus when some one at a meeting is told he cant ask why the person is being dismissed is really wrong a person has the rite to ask.

  11. Wow… Yall need to re-evaluate any decision to remove Chief Chambers.

  12. So these ******s wanna remove my buddy Chris without giving a reason??
    Having a meeting on an agenda behind closed doors??
    My buddy Tipton put them on check and it’s time the rest of ya up river do the same.
    #keepchrischambersscrewyourpolitics

  13. Richard Bierbrodt

    Chris Chambers is a damn good chief

  14. Wow. We all stand behind you Chris Chambers

  15. Jess Cornell Murphy

    Wow. Here I thought everyone loved Chris Chambers. 🙁

  16. Nikol Thompson Clement

    Chris chambers is the best!!!

  17. chris is a great captain also a great guy. and it was awesome of mr.tipton to speak up. jeff and pat you need to go peddle your papers some place else.

  18. August 21, 2013 work session quotes:

    Chief reviews cost of $2/hour increase (4K a year based on 40 hour work week, 10% raise for someone making 40K)
    Chief replied for 17 years each employee received step raises (county and city employees would have loved that)
    Chief stated if given a choice to hire 2 positions vs giving raises, he would choose raises….. Can’t put a price on safety?

  19. I support Chief Chris Chambers. He is very competent, and a reliable and crucial part of the health care system here in La Paz County. Under his leadership, Buckskin FD has maintained a very high level of professionalism and expertise. His people are well-trained and prepared for all-hazards response, including supporting any mass vaccination events needed within the county (remember H1N1?). In this case, you are getting what you pay for – a highly competent first responder unit and a proven leader. Nobody wants to get rid of that kind of emergency response capability — and then find out afterwards that they really needed it after all. By then, it’s too late.

  20. Nobody is claiming that chris chambers is not a great guy, but he is the department head of a department whose budget is out of control. Chris or his staffs refusal to give the budget information the board it is requesting is playing politics and is a fine line of insubordination? Someone has to be accountable, that is why we put people in these positions; when questions come up we know who to turn to.
    I do believe the fire board handled this situation very unprofessionally.

  21. Facts

    Facts are facts …. Or are they? You and I can look at the same glass with contents at 50%. You might see a glass half empty and I might see it as half full.
    Likewise you could be sitting on a beach on the California Parker strip and see a huge beach all that is blue but on the arizona side it’s red. Facts are usually not investigated second hand information that is quite similar to 12 people sitting in a chair whispering a secret to the person next to them and at the end is different than how is started
    I am experienced in watching people collect “facts and data” only to reach a bad conclusions.
    I know the board has asked silly ambiguous questions that cannot be answered with a yes or no and they haven’t had the appetite to get down and dirt and explore the details.
    Please remember ONLY the board can authorize a budget AND approve an expenditure
    I KNOW the board secretary hasn’t done a detail review of the financial audit conducted last two years. Nor has he tendered any recommendations to the chief in a constructive method to reduce expenses other that throwing out nonsense generalities like fire chief cut overtime drive the small truck instead of the big one and not once has he tried to understand the details. Nothing is ever maximized both in effectiveness and efficiency. The former meaning do the very best possible saving lives and property and the later being doing the former with constrained resources well.
    So facts is you have a strong opinion on an area that needs to be explored I will help you with the chief and sit down for a few hours and get you a response

  22. Clyde
    Chris is not reluctant to answer questions or provide details. The board makes a comment like ” why do you take the big truck out instead of the small truck.
    Che’s says cause the big truck has everything to handle any situation. The board says well yea but sometimes it doesn’t need a big truck and yea maybe 10. – 20% of the time the board is right.
    The question you should ask Clyde is do you want the small truck to come to you or yours tonight for a brain aneurism stroke heart attack shortness of breath or a severe accident? Do you want the chief or staff to spend precious minutes deciding which truck to send or do you want them on the move now.
    BTW the fuel difference is minimal.

  23. John,
    Appreciate the feedback. I quoted the minutes from your meetings. Bottom line, if minutes are accurate, 17 years the department got raises from tax payers that did not. 43500 for administrative assistant is higher than any department in the county/city. People paying the yearly salary increases continue to dish out more for EVERY year, when their checks are getting smaller or more is being dished out to cover increased “taxes”, bonds to pay Yakima etc. Maybe the fire department should be a little more humble with the budget and not get yearly increases
    .

  24. i know all the firemen here i feed them on holidays have been doing it for over 7 years they a re all good men and chief is a good man let him do what he does best

  25. Fact

    You sound reasonable in your approach and understanding. I don’t know or understand the details but am thinking you and I could hook up with chris ( if this appropriate) go over some of these issues with him
    My frustration was because the board tried to sneak in an issue that they themselves should have worked harder to assess and understand. And they did not.
    So lets you and I go see chris ask a few questions give him a few days to work through the details and get back with him – and then maybe jointly post our assessment. My business phone number is 6675952 and my email is
    Chris is willing to provide data is he allowed to provide ( I am not sure of the boards influence in this is). So notwithstanding any board restrictions let’s set an appointment and go see Chris
    John

  26. John
    Why are you facilitating meeting with the chief and the public and yourself with questions on the budget? That should be something chris should be able to address on his own, with out going through you.
    Regarding if I had an aneurism stroke heart attack shortness of breath or a severe accident, I would want an ambulance or possible a helicopter who could transport me to the nearest hospital. Something the fire trucks can not do, regardless of size or mpg.

  27. I have known the Chief longer than most. In fact he has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.
    He has always had my back and the backs of others. You can always count on him, he always puts others first. He would throw himself in harms way to help a stranger.
    This is the way that Chris has always been.
    The Department is like family, and so are the people of Parker.
    Look at the diversity this Department has, and the proper training to handle almost any emergency thrown their way.
    Chris and his staff are the best at what they do. It is not easy being everything to everybody, but I can not think of a single person that works harder than Chris at trying.
    I can tell you this, he treats me just like everyone else “fair”.
    I am sure some of the Board members can find a better “Bookkeeper” , but you will never find a better “Cheif”.
    I have always called him Walkie Talkie, because he is always on his cell. You can always count on him answering his phone, just like you can count on him when your life is in danger.
    He is always there along with his awesome Captains, and Firemen to answer your call.
    When your in harms way, you can always depend on Chris.
    That goes for the gentlemen that want him removed as well.
    Trust me when I say, it is Chris Chambers that you want by your side when you have to make that 911 call.
    Love you brother, aka “Cheif”

  28. I am saddened to hear how some choose to handle a simple administrative issue. Terminate him!!!!????? The Parker community is extremely lucky to have a Fire Chief with the Integrety, training, and experience as Chris Chambers has! I have known Chris personally for close to 30 years and have worked with him professionally for the last 16 years. I do not know anyone with more enthusiasm and heart in his field of work. Let me add that Chris and crew have been on two very serious life and death calls of my own family members. I would not want ANYONE else rolling up to take care of my loved ones. That is more that a mere opinion. It is a FACT!

  29. Constituents of La Paz county:
    We have secured a date time and building to invite candidates under consideration for fire board seats. This includes 2 incumbents wanting to return, and a field of 4 more to consider. We all know the general dysfunction of the current board and we need to take some responsibility. We voted for them and left them alone for too long unsupervised. I think we all know better for the future.
    We’re going to double the size of the room and invite all candidates for reelection/election to join us. I have prepared a set of 10 questions centered around the qualifications and the ability to contribute conflicts of interests and understand other peoples biases. Also to show general support to having a fire department. These will be given to them 15 minutes prior to the meeting and they will have 15 minutes to respond. Then we will allow 2 questions to further get insights. Someway we will establish a method to select a question from each side of the argument ( ie pro fire department and one from someone dissatisfied with the department) Please no editorials about how wonderful the FD is or why they spend the money the way they spend it. This is a chance to understand who we have running our fire board. And who we should vote for. And at the end of the election we might still not be satisfied and might have to take further action to get a board that better represents us the voters.
    Meeting is scheduled to begin at 530PM October 30,2014 at the boathouse. Candidates should arrive no later than 5:15 to get their questions. Please help us get the word out to candidates, voters, and any others that should be here. The other 3 members of the board are welcome to attend as a participant/constituent.
    This is NOT a board meeting. This is a community meeting for the community to hear from candidates.

  30. It’s funny how you all assume these firefighters all have deep pockets! I know for a fact this is not true. AND If it was then why do almost all of them have a second or third job to try to support themselves or their family. They work hard. it’s not like the movies where they sit and play video games all day or watch sports. They have a strict list of daily and nightly chores that they must complete for ever day of the week, no-matter the amount of calls they may have ran for the day. Take a tour of the facility. These men and woman do not do this job because of the pay. They are there because they love to help people. They are diving in cold water at 2am, rushing to a heart attack in the middle of dinner. Just laying in bed for the first time to get called out to that car crash. Think to yourself the next time you see a building on fire, how much money you would take to run into that building. Would $10 or $15 dollars an hour be enough to risk your life? And When the ambulance is stuck in Bouse or Quartzsite and the only people that can save your life are these fire fighters who arrives in less than 5 minutes have rigorous training can get you stable and call that helicopter to save you. FACT: Happens more than you think.

    Chief Chambers has his hands tied. And I would not wish his job on anyone. The responsibility to Try to be the voice your employees who are FACT: one of the lowest paid full time fire stations in Arizona. And Try to please the board who wants funds cut, crew cut, vehicles cut. And just apparently don’t want to work with but against you. (Because they can, and don’t have to explain why).

    Have any of these board members completed a 24 or 48 hour ride along? Maybe it would benefit them.. so they can REALLY see what is happening? What tax money is REALLY going to. This would be my suggestion.

  31. After much distress, hearing about the latest Fire Board Fiasco, and the controversy it aroused, I requested a recorded copy of the meeting to review objectively. As former Administrative Assistant, and a previous elected official of the Buckskin Fire District, I was pleased that the meeting had been so well attended.
    The response to the now infamous “Agenda Item 16” seems to have been what drew the flocks of people to the meeting. Most of who expressed their admiration for the Fire Department, its professional responders, and praise for the continued and adept leadership of Fire Chief Chris Chambers.
    What disturbed me first was the manner in which the Agenda Item was written.
    “16. (Action item) Discussion and Possible action: Approve/Deny to Promote, Demote, Hire Terminate, Reprimand, Appraise or Suspend Chris Chambers, Fire Chief.”
    Those words were scripted by Fire Board Clerk Jeff Daniel, and placed on the Agenda. The scope of the item was so broad, it was clearly written to deceive the public, and those involved. The Fire District’s legal counsel has repeatedly emphasized the need to be explicit about what is placed on the Agenda, and cautioned the Fire Board not to discuss anything that was not placed on the Agenda during the meetings.
    I also scrutinized that if the intent was to promote or recognize the Chief, then it was appropriately placed. However, anything contrary traditionally would have been considered a personnel matter, and cited as such. In that case, a prior Agenda Item would have been placed on the Agenda, respectfully asking all Board Members if they would like to discuss this matter in an Executive Session. (Bear in mind that during Executive Sessions, no action can be taken, but differences could be addressed without outside influences.) Had the Executive Session been considered, the Fire Chief would have respectfully been given a 24 hour written notice, and he could then decide if he would like to have legal representation present. Even if the Fire Board did vote to discuss the matter during an Executive Session, the Fire Chief would then have the right to decline the session, and elect to discuss the item during the regular session open to the public. At the close of the Executive Session, the Board would have reconvened to Regular Session for further action.
    The Fire Board has long maintained the practice of receiving an Agenda Packet carefully prepared by the Fire Department Staff. The staff has been directed to include a brief explanation and reason each Agenda Item was placed on the agenda, and by whom. Any supporting documentation and/or reports are also provided to the Fire Board. This is done from the Call to Order all the way down to the Adjourn. The staff is required to provide each Board Member the Agenda Packet one week prior to the meeting. So – I question, why was there no brief explanation provided to the Administrative Assistant by Mr. Daniel for inclusion?
    Heads up, Fire Board. How is it that nobody knew anything as to the background of this item?
    While it is true that the Open Meeting Law prohibits more than two members from discussing any listed agenda items, it seems odd that several members of the public and another governing board seemed to know about the item and its intent.

    For those who may not have attended the meeting, I would like to share with you Jeff Daniel’s statement when Chairman Svider addressed Agenda Item 16.
    “I make a motion to terminate Chris Chambers as Fire Chief. I am very concerned on the District, of the Fire Department, of where it’s going, and where the direction of the Board of where it’s going – that’s my concern.”
    [Public comment] “Why?”
    Mr. Daniel’s response, “Just – I don’t need to give reasons or grounds; there’s a reason for why we are doing this. I feel that it is time for the District and the Fire Department, and the Board to go in different directions. So I’m not going to elaborate on anything else, the reason why I put this on the board is I’m going to make it a motion to terminate our Fire Chief Chris Chambers.”

    Gary Svider asked for a second. After lengthy pause, and a comment from the public that there probably wasn’t going to be a second, Gary Svider continued, “I will second it for conversation – for discussion.

    As is evidenced of the many responses and postings on the Parker Live website, the public reaction was fraught with opposition. Thanks to Monty Rust for seizing the opportunity to make the motion to remove the item from the agenda, followed by a quick second by Greg Bachmann; there was a bit of scrambling from Board Members regarding protocol, while Chairman Svider withdrew his second for the first item, and Clerk Daniel withdrew the original motion for Agenda Item 16. The motion to remove the item was then addressed appropriately, and passed by a 3:2 vote. The meeting closed on a better note.

    I, myself, upon careful review of Mr. Daniel’s motion am left wondering of his word choice, “Just – I don’t need to give reasons or grounds; there’s a reason for why we are doing this.”
    Who is we and why are they doing this? Apparently Clerk Jeff Daniel and unidentified others feel that the Fire Board and the Fire Department are going in different directions. So much more could be accomplished if they would work together.
    The Fire Board has the opportunity to assure its public that the exemplary works of the Buckskin Fire Department personnel will continue to protect them and respond to its emergencies. So many times have Board Members stated they want transparency and accountability. There was nothing transparent about Agenda Item 16, and yes, the public is seeking accountability.

  32. There’s a big difference between being a swell guy who grew up in the area that everyone likes and knowing how to run a government agency and allocate funds. Why is it our property values keep dropping and yet our taxes increase almost soley because of the Buckskin Fire Department’s share? You can’t even say they do a great job, having to come back and put out a fire that you already put out once is not quality firefighting. A 2 million dollar budget for a 10 man fire department? c’mon man!

  33. I think reality check needs to do a bit of fact finding. First on the crew size, and second on how often flare-ups happen in such a dry hot place. It’s not an easy job. But can you do better? Don’t bash them. Until you have walked in those boots. It’s easy to sit back and pass judgment.

  34. Like the old saying goes, the more things change the more they seem to stay the same. It has been almost 2 years since I was the Chair of the Buckskin Fire District Governing Board and from reading the article and comments posted on Parker Live and from talking to my friends and neighbors in Parker it sounds like the same old things are still going on. The same old people are trying to push their same old agenda of self-interest creating conflicts of interest, the same old people are guilty of derelict of duty, and only the voting public has the sense and power to straighten things out. These people are the same ones that last week brazenly stood against the best interest of the residences of the Buckskin Fire District and tried to go against the will of the voting public. For some reason, they don’t seem to get it. We see the same thing happening on the national level today, and it is dangerous. They don’t seem to realize that the people Up River love our Fire Department and we will not stand for the dismantling of the Department we have worked so hard to build and maintain. The Senior Citizens that live UP River will not stand for second rate Emergency Medical Service in our community, especially not after we have had the benefit of the top notch service for so long from the Buckskin Fire Department. Yet these people continue to push and pry and try to play their dirty little games (like illegally placing items on the meeting agendas) in an attempt to undermine the Department. This is not only dishonest and underhanded but also puts the tax payers at risk in the case of a suit being brought against the Board for not following state regulations.
    It is a conflict of interest to have people sitting on the Buckskin Sanitation Board at the same time they sit on the Buckskin Fire District Board and make six figure deals with employees of the Fire Department so they can control who knows what. This is unscrupulous, disingenuous, and I believe illegal. The voters of the Buckskin Fire District need to put an end to it. The voters resoundingly dismissed Gary Svider from the District Governing Board of Buckskin Fire Department in the last election. Making my biggest mistake of my term as the Chairperson of that board, I allowed him back on by voting to let him fill a vacant seat. I regret that decision daily. This Thursday is “Meet the Candidates” and I have some questions for the people running for this position, since I will be out of the country, I hope the voting public will ask these candidates some of these questions:
    Pat Jones and Gary Svider, and we might as well include Pat’s wife Denise Jones since she is also running for this office, are entrenched in the scandalous affairs of the Buckskin Sanitation District, and the inappropriate relationships they have formed with employees of the Buckskin Fire Department. Do they really want us to believe they will represent the best interests of the voters? Are you happy with the Buckskin Sanitation District? These are the people running it!
    Jeff Daniels, close friend and confidant of Pat Jones and Gary Svider, is the Buckskin Fire District Board Secretary/Treasurer who is supposed to sign off on reconciliations of accounts each month and yet he has not been to a single AFDA (Arizona Fire District Association) Conference in the two years he has been on this Board – Conferences are offered two times a year. Why has this been allowed to happen?
    And finally, Bob Gory who is a hard working businessman in the area and, by the way, an old friend of mine, in my opinion just has too much going on; all at the same time. He is on the County Zoning Committee as well as the Fire District Board and at the same time is trying to run his business. When I was on the Board I could always count on Bob to ask the hard questions, but for some reason I could also count on him to ask questions that had been answered several times before at previous meetings. Usually this was because he had missed the meeting where these things were discussed, but Bob also always had a problem understanding the budget process. The Board receives a detailed financial report each month and Bob always had difficulty understanding it. The AFDA (Arizona Fire District Association) offers classes on the subject regularly, but to my knowledge, during his 6 years on the Fire Board he has not been able to attend any of them. Isn’t that a training he should have had years ago?
    I am supporting and endorsing Glenda Gerson! She does not have a personnel agenda like Jones, Svider, and Daniels have, and having prior business experience; she can objectively make decisions that can benefit both the Department and Tax Payers of the District. She has the time and energy to devote to the position. The members of the Sewer Board are in such a conflict of interest, I don’t think any of them should be allowed to be on both Boards. No matter how you feel on these issues, please get out there and vote.
    Jim Brouillette, Long Time La Paz County Resident and Business Owner

  35. Hey Bonnie, that’s like saying I can’t decide for myself that Tim Tebow isn’t an NFL quality quarterback because I haven’t played in the NFL. I grew up in a town with a volunteer fire department and in 25 years I can’t recall one time they had to go back to put out a fire they had already put out once.

  36. Realitycheck, I am not sure why you have chose hide behind this name.
    I don’t believe you have made a strong argument yet. Living in a town with a volunteer fire department does not make you and expect on fire science. In our community alone much more has gone on unnoticed because it does not effect us in our day to day. And I am not claiming to be either by any means. But not to long ago a mutual aid was called to a fire at China Garden, where Parker Fire, CRIT fire and Buckskin Fire all responded. And that fire rekindled. Numerous rekindles on the Wildland fires in our area. Who’s fault was that? I am not looking to get into a pissing match with you. I am merrily trying to give some respect to all the Fire Fighters of our community. I respect them, and there thank less job. And from what I hear the majority of our county and community do as well.

  37. Thank you, Jim Brouillette, for your perspective and insight. I too, share your concerns of conflicts of interest, and continual repetitiveness. I too, support and endorse Glenda Gerson, as she has exhibited in the past, her willingness to do research and objectively make business decisions.

  38. Chief Chris Chambers

    Let’s state “facts” – beginning with 2008 and the economy slump, loss of jobs and property values reduced “significantly”, which directly affect the revenue generated through property assessed values. The once million dollar home reduced in value plays a large role in the loss of revenue which is still necessary to operate. We are in a “Recession” and we are finally beginning to see sign of recovery.
    The assessed valuation of the Fire District has decreased from 83 million to a little over 60 million in the 5 years I have been the Fire Chief. We are currently at a rate of $2.77 for our current year tax rate. This year we have a decrease of 6.3 million in assessed value. 40% of the of the fire districts in AZ are at $3.25 or higher. If they increase the tax rate over $3.25, it must be approved by the state for a maximum increase for 2 years. The sewer district and AWC have the tax assessments but they also collect user fees that Buckskin Fire Department does not. For paid fire districts our size located in the state of Arizona, (in a range from 10 – 14 full time paid personnel) Buckskin Fire has the lowest tax rate according to AFDA statistics. There are 128 fire districts included in the survey from Arizona.
    In the meantime, we must continue to operate under the constraints set before us. We have 27 employees, of which 15 are full time employees, 2 of which do not receive benefits package, and the rest consists of part time employees and POCs. Regardless of being a full time employee or part time, we still have the cost of training and outfitting.
    Please see attached operating budget for the current fiscal year and the operating budget from 2012. I have attached it to the end for easier viewing. Please remember that the Buckskin Fire Board has numerous working sessions going through the budget each year reviewing line by line and ultimately the Fire Board must approve the budget. If you look at the 2 budgets and the total cost for operations, it is $44,791.51 higher in 2015FY than in 2012FY. This is not a huge increase when you take into consideration the rising cost of doing business.
    Huge factors in our operating budget is the rising costs for insurance. Our worker’s compensation insurance has increased by $100K a year in the last 3 years. Another significant increase that is out of my control is the rising cost for the employer contribution to the Public Employee’s Pension. In 2012 the employer contribution was 25.45% and it has increased to 35.11% for the current fiscal year. This is a mandated requirement. For an example with a payroll of $870K the additional cost would be an additional $87K pension expense. These 2 factors alone have increased our budget by $187,000.00. To help offset these costs, we have made substantial cuts in all areas that we can.
    Our only other source of revenue is when we participate in Wildland Fires. We purchased a used Type 6 to fight wildfires. We have an agreement with the AZ State Forestry Division that allows us to charge an hourly rate for use of our vehicle. All personnel costs are reimbursed at a loaded hourly rate which includes cost of benefits, payroll taxes, pension contribution, and worker’s compensation insurance. The revenue earned is kept in a separate account and these funds are used to purchased/maintain Wildland equipment and training. In addition, each year we submit Grants to the AZ State Forestry. We have been fortunate in being awarded the grants this year. In previous years the awarded grants pay for equipment and other related items. With the Wildland account, we used $40K for a down payment for our water tender and we continue to use these funds to pay the annual payment. This does not cost the taxpayers. YTD we have earned $21K this season. Our tenders are also available for assignment if needed.
    For some of our awarded grants, please see examples see below:
    2006 SLIF – $67595.00 Boat House/Kitchen
    2007 SLIF – $82170.00 Parking Lot
    2009 DHS – $68001.05 Generators
    2010 VFA – $2000.00 Equipment/Training
    2010 RFA – $18769.72 Extrication Equip
    2010 GOER – $12000.00 Fit Tester
    2010/11 GOER $65000.00 Personnel costs
    2011 VFA – $15119.95 Wildland equipment/training
    2011 RFA – $17700.00 Wildland equipment/training
    2011 GOER – $20558.00 Radios
    2014 VFA $10903.25 Wildland Radio, Floto pump and hoses
    2014 VFA $6860.00 Wildland PPE and supplies
    2014 GOER $17,000.00 Haz mat equipment
    Total: $403,676.97

    We apply for grants each year to help the Fire District and La Paz County. I am also a member of WRAC (West Regional Advisory Council) which is with the State of Arizona Department of Homeland Security. During my 5 years on the WRAC Council, La Paz County and Buckskin Fire District have been awarded over $400K in equipment. Greg Bachmann is also a long time member of WRAC Council and a member of the Buckskin Fire Board. This year John Drum and Holly Irwin have been accepted on the Council.

    The Fire Board and I have been, and will continue to be fiscally responsible with tax payers money. I have been with Buckskin Fire Department for 22 years and this district, friends, and families are my priority.
    Please feel free to call Buckskin Fire Department if you have any questions.
    (928) 667-3321.

    ***********
    BUCKSKIN FIRE DISTRICT
    Proposed Budget FYE 2012
    (Full time fire department operating from two stations; 15 F/T Employees)
    Fire Protection & EMS
    Personnel (Salary & Wages) 970,600.00
    Govt Grant: Payroll (Reimbursed by State) 20,000.00
    Off Duty Special Training Compensation 16,000.00
    Wildland Pay (Reimbursed by State) 25,000.00
    Benefits 278,500.00
    Payroll Expenses 26,000.00
    Personnel Insurance & Workman’s Comp 230,400.00
    Vehicle Expenses (Fuel & Maintenance) 44,500.00
    Uniforms & PPE 18,500.00
    Small Tools & Equipment 36,953.00
    Govt Grants: Equip/Training
    (Reimbursed by Govt) 48,775.00
    EMS, Operations & Training 34,250.00
    Total Fire Protection & EMS $ 1,749,478.00
    Department Operations
    Office Expense 10,000.00
    Admin Costs/Fire Board Expenses 8,400.00
    Contingency Fund 20,000.00
    Legal Fees 5,000.00
    Contracted/Professional Services 14,600.00
    OSHA Physicals 15,000.00
    Insurance (Liability & Vehicle) 34,500.00
    Utilities & Phone 32,000.00
    Repair & Maintenance 17,250.00
    Total Department Operations $ 156,750.00
    Capital Outlay
    Capital Outlay/Equipment 20,000.00
    Building Fund 10,000.00
    Apparatus Fund 10,000.00
    Total Capital Outlay $ 40,000.00
    Debt Service/Apparatus
    Apparatus Payment 35,000.00
    Personal Protective Equipment 7,271.00
    Air Paks 8,847.00
    Total Debt Service $ 51,118.00
    Operations Total: 1,997,346.00
    *LESS: NON LEVY INCOME $ 226,411.00
    Interim Operational Fund 105,436.00
    Billable Services Income 25,000.00
    Interest Income 1,700.00
    Anticipated Donations 500.00
    Grants: Reimbursed by Govt 48,775.00
    Grants: Payroll
    Reimbursement by Govt 20,000.00
    Apparatus Reserve Fund 10,000.00
    Wildland Equipment Reserve 15,000.00
    LEVY INCOME 1,770,935.00
    Fire District Assistance Tax 116,940.00
    **TOTAL LEVY INCOME $ 1,653,995.00
    *Non Levy Income (reserved accounts for designated funds) deducted from the total operations budget. The effect reduces the Total Levy Income.
    ** The “Total Levy Income” is collected from taxes.

    Budget Hearing & Adoption meeting: July 6, 2011 6:00 p.m.
    Buckskin Fire Department 8500 Riverside DR, Parker, AZ
    (Detailed Budget available upon request)

    ************

    BUCKSKIN FIRE DISTRICT
    Proposed Budget FYE 2015
    (Full time fire department operating from two stations)
    Fire Protection & EMS
    Personnel (Salary & Wages) 968,294.69
    Off Duty Special Training Compensation 7600.00
    Wildland Pay (Reimbursed by State) 40,000.00
    Benefits 326,839.43
    Payroll Expenses 20,626.42
    Personnel Insurance & Workman’s Comp 296,359.97
    Vehicle Expenses (Fuel & Maintenance) 42,250.00
    Uniforms & PPE 19,500.00
    Small Tools & Equipment 22,503.00
    Govt Grants/Equipment 9,980.00
    EMS, Operations & Training 49,000.00
    Total Fire Protection & EMS $ 1,802,953.51
    Department Operations
    Office Expense 10,000.00
    Admin Costs/Fire Board Expenses 16,500.00
    Contingency Fund 20,000.00
    Legal Fees 5,000.00
    Contracted/Professional Services 17,684.00
    OSHA Physicals 13,000.00
    Elections/County 1,700.00
    Insurance (Liability & Vehicle) 38,300.00
    Utilities & Phone 31,000.00
    Repair & Maintenance 15,000.00
    Total Department Operations $ 168,184.00
    Capital Outlay
    Capital Outlay/Equipment 15,000.00
    Building Fund 8,000.00
    Total Capital Outlay $ 23,000.00
    Debt Service/Apparatus
    Apparatus Payment 48,000.00
    Total Debt Service $ 48,000.00
    Operations Total: 2,042,137.51
    *LESS: NON LEVY INCOME $ 276,480.00
    Interim Operational Fund 225,000.00
    Billable Services Income 40,000.00
    Interest Income 1,000.00
    Anticipated Donations 500.00
    Anticipated Govt Grants
    /Reimbursements 9,980.00
    LEVY INCOME 1,765,657.51
    Fire District Assistance Tax 77,959.00
    **TOTAL LEVY INCOME $ 1,687,698.51
    *Non Levy Income (reserved accounts for designated funds) deducted from the total operations budget. The effect reduces the Total Levy Income.
    ** The “Total Levy Income” is collected from taxes.

    (Budget Hearing & Adoption Meeting July 9, 2014. 6:00 p.m.)
    Buckskin Fire Department 8500 Riverside Drive, Parker, AZ
    (Detailed Budget available upon request)

  39. Wait a minute. This fire board directly accused you of NOT ever responding to their requests.
    I realize this could would and should take several hours for even a smart person to assess.

    Should our board ha e taken the time to assess ” facts and data before deciding to fire the chief?

    Jeff what say ye? You are accountable to us to assess and advise and work with the chief. Arbritrary and capricious number throwing have no business in our business. Might be time for you to decide what you are going to do

  40. Comparing proposed 2012 and 2015 budgets above, the line item related to “Fire Board Expense” nearly doubles from $8,500 to $16,500 in just 3 years. So the answer is fire the Chief? What am I missing?

  41. I do not understand why there is so much animosity against the chief from several members of the board. There is one tax payer who does not like the Chief because he did not hire his son many years ago. He was not hired because he did not complete his pre training. Some of the members of the board just want to fire the Chief so they can put one of their friends in place of the Chief who they can control. Some comments were made here that a volenteer Fire Department works good but it does not. You do not have quick response time and you do not have trained Paramedics. Our area needs this department and the Chief as he has done a fantastic job of running this department and training his men. At the last board meeting many tax payers of the community came to the meeting to support the Chief and his team. They have seen them in action and many times saving lives.

  42. Chief Chris Chambers

    We are in the middle of a grant close out, I have two I forgot to mention. This grant was a FEMA AFG (Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program) 2011-2012 but the close out just became available. Buckskin Recieved
    $99,719.19 for three LIFEPAK 15 Monitor/Defibrillators,CPR. These replaced twenty year old monitors, the old LIFEPAC 12 that were very expensive to maintain.
    In addition we have worked very well with CAP (Central Arizona Project) with trainings, confined space rescue with the facility above Havasu Springs they also donated a LIFEPAC 15 to Buckskin Fire. So now we have four new monitors that will hopefully last another 20 years at no cost to the taxpayer.
    The AFG also had a training portion to this grant that funded $7867.00 to our paramedic training we were
    conducting.
    Total $107,586.19
    If you add the other monitor from CAP @ $33,200.00
    The total is $140,786.19
    So this grant along with the others above is $544,463.16
    This does Not include most of the $403,000.00 to La Paz County and BFD from the WRAC.
    This is equiptment we use. All at no cost to the taxpayer!
    I would also like to thank everyone who came to the meeting to save my job, and for all the support I have recieved from the community!
    Hopefully I will have the opportunity to keep serving Buckskin Fire Department with your support.
    Respectfully
    Chief Chambers

  43. It’s worth pointing out that if assessed values go lower, the % tax rate can be higher to meet exactly the same budget as when assessed values were higher and the % tax rate lower. In both cases the budget is still $X.XX. It’s the budget itself that should be debated, not that percentage necessarily.

  44. I am a resident of Parker. I have no knowledge …nor acquaintances…of any members of the Fire Department or the Board. My only comment is I have seen this Fire Department in action with several of my neighbors who required emergency treatment and, having been a nurse for over 30 years, have never seen such professional well trained people. I might add that their response time is remarkable…and when you, or a loved one is requiring emergency treatment,….every second is gut wrenching and time becomes an eternity. So, I commend this department for their knowledge, compassion, and first line response and whoever is responsible for this should be recommended. I suspect Chris Chambers, being the Chief, is a huge part. I truly appreciate all you do.

  45. I may not know a whole lot about the board or the BFD but I can spot bullshit when I see it. How many of these people on the board are even qualified to make judgement calls, as stated in previous comments, in regards to which truck to take to an emergency situation? How many board members even know what to do in an emergency situation? Being chief isn’t an easy position and I suppose with board members such as these riding your ass it’s even harder! Anyone who adds something to the agenda without it being discussed and then when asked why it was added replies that he doesn’t have to give a reason has alterior motives. If I need BFD for my mother you better bring the big damn truck and screw the board!!!!!!!

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