PRESCOTT VALLEY - The Central Yavapai Fire District board of directors in its monthly meeting Tuesday agreed to set up a joint meeting with the Chino Valley Fire District's board to discuss how the two departments might combine their administrative sections in an effort to save money.
There are still questions as to how such a plan would work. CYFD board member Bob Gardiner asked who hires and could fire a chief employed to oversee both departments.
"I see it as a possible political nightmare for that chief," he said. "You're now representing two different taxing authorities," noting the potential for appearing to be partial to one department or the other.
Interim Fire Chief Scott Bliss added some other questions to be addressed as well.
"What happens if one board is unhappy with (the chief) and the other isn't?" he asked.
The answer to that depends on who hires the chief, he said. There has been discussion of bringing over new Chino Valley Chief Scott Freitag, and Bliss said, that, if CYFD was not satisfied with his performance, the district could withdraw form the agreement.
Bliss said that he believed all the issues that would arise from the combined administration could be "overcome," and pointed out that the Chino Valley town attorney "has some experience with this kind of agreement."
CYFD board attorney Nick Cornelius said the legalities of the deal didn't concern him as much as how day-to-day operations might work.
"Is the board going to be comfortable with what may end up being a part-time fire chief?" he asked. "I don't know how that's going to work out.
"I would strongly encourage the board to consider this to be hiring a fire chief just like if you were going through the formal listing process," Cornelius said.
"I'm not trying to naysay this, really. I'm all for it," Gardiner said. "There's just a lot of hurdles."
Board Chairman Steve Rutherford said that both Prescott Valley and Chino Valley are growing, "and as we grow, and we know that's happening, we have the ability to grow through sharing these services rather than by adding people at each entity." He called that "the real value I see going forward."
Rutherford took pains to make sure that the agreement was not known as a "merger," saying, "It's simply an agreement to share some services that we both perform individually."