Business Director Karen Daines said a few months ago she expected the assessed valuations of properties to decrease and was waiting on February numbers, which came in 30 percent lower than last year, SFD Board member Charles Christensen said.
The 30 percent decrease in assessed values will not affect the current budget cycle, but will impact the Sedona Fire District in 2011.
Resident Dick Fishel told the SFD Governing Board the 2011 assessed valuations, which residents recently received, are like a double-edged sword.
On one hand, Fishel said, he likes paying lower property taxes, but he realizes how much this could hurt the fire district since most of its funding comes from property taxes.
He said the 30 percent reduction in property taxes in 2011 means some unwelcome cuts no one will like must be implemented.
Fishel urged the board to look at cuts not impacting personnel or services residents currently receive.
Quick fixes of laying off people would likely result in losing them to other agencies, meaning SFD would not be able to hire them back in better times, he said.
Fishel added smart and successful companies understand the impact of layoffs, and they should only be used as a last resort.
Attempts to reach Daines were unsuccessful. She told other district employees she was too busy to comment.
According to a statement released by SFD, the 2011-2012 fiscal year budget and decreased property valuations are not items SFD is concerned with right now, and it is premature to talk about future impacts.
Property taxes also decreased for the current budget cycle the board is working on, though they did not compare to the 30 percent of 2010.
Daines earlier said there will be a reduction of 7.8 percent in the 2010-2011 fiscal year budget from the current 2009-2010 fiscal year. However, those figures did not take into account the recent salary freezes the board made to save $145,000.
The operations portion of the 2010-2011 budget is $12.86 million with another $51,000 being budgeted for capital projects.
The overall tentative budget Daines presented to the governing board is $13.99 million, but she added $600,000 of this figure is for contingency items in case an unexpected exspense occurs.
She told the board the intent is to stay extremely close to line item amounts, and when asked by the board how she created the budget, she said past years were indicators.
“We know what the costs are going to be,” she said. “We don’t know exactly what will happen.”
The next fire district budget workshop will be Wednesday, March 10, at 3 p.m. at Station No. 1 in West Sedona.