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home : latest news : local December 17, 2014

5/21/2014 9:25:00 AM
Central Yavapai, Chino Valley fire districts close to deal to share chief, staff
Central Yavapai Fire District Interim Fire Chief Scott Bliss and Chino Valley Fire District Fire Chief Scott Freitag discuss a joint management agreement Wednesday, March 5 in Prescott Valley.
Photo courtesy Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
Central Yavapai Fire District Interim Fire Chief Scott Bliss and Chino Valley Fire District Fire Chief Scott Freitag discuss a joint management agreement Wednesday, March 5 in Prescott Valley.
Photo courtesy Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier

Scott Orr
Special to the Tribune

PRESCOTT VALLEY, Arizona - The Central Yavapai Fire District's governing board on Tuesday signaled that it will likely approve an agreement with the Chino Valley Fire District to share management services in June.

The CYFD board saw a proposed intergovernmental agreement at its monthly meeting. The document, worked out by attorneys for both boards, CVFD Chief Scott Freitag, and CYFD Interim Chief Scott Bliss, sets up a system by which the two agencies would share a chief, who may then allocate "equipment, personnel, and resources as needed" to run both departments.

Freitag, hired by CVFD in September 2013, would be the new chief; Bliss, who has filled the job on a temporary basis since Paul Nies left the job about six months ago, would return to his duties as a division chief.

CYFD Board Chairman Steve Rutherford praised the agreement. "I want to compliment the attorneys for keeping this document simple," he said. "This thing could be a boat anchor around our necks, but it's not."

One of the provisions, however, caused board member Tom Steele "heartburn:" it would set up a three-person committee - with one member from each fire board and a third chosen by the two - to oversee the fire chief.

"I see it as unnecessary and a complication that's going to put additional work on the staff," he said, suggesting that one member of each board attend the other board's meetings instead.

Board attorney Nick Cornelius said he would look into the amount of extra work the provision would generate - especially concerning open-meeting law requirements - and report back.

Freitag said the deal works because CYFD pays less than it would if it hired its own chief, $10,000 a year versus the $135,000 it paid Nies, but supplies manpower and expertise to Chino Valley, which would continue to pay Freitag's $111,300 salary.

"Chino would greatly benefit from having access to an operations chief, an administrative chief to help oversee human resources and finance," he said. "Having access to some level of the support services chief... which projects and puts together statistics on where each fire district is going."

The last element to be finalized, Bliss said, is the level and type of liability insurance coverage the agreement will specify. He expected to have that settled by next month's meeting.

The CVFD board is expected to sign off on the deal at its next meeting.

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