By Roger Ball
The Arizona Fire & Medical Authority, which oversees operations of the North County Fire and Medical District, is considering moving its monthly meeting site to downtown Phoenix.
Currently the AFMA coordinates services of two separate departments — North County Fire and Medical District, serving Sun City West and Wittmann, and Sun Lakes, located in the southernmost part of Maricopa County. The AFMA board consists of three representatives from the North County board, and two from Sun Lakes. The regularly scheduled meetings of the two department boards of directors and the AFMA usually occur back-to-back-to-back on the same day. They meet in Sun City West for two months, and then rotate to Sun Lakes for the third month, and repeat the cycle.
The distance between the two sites is about 60 miles and is a time-consuming trip for the board members and staff who need to attend. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors auditorium, 301 W. Jefferson St., Phoenix is close to the mid-point, and the AFMA and the two district boards are considering moving the monthly meetings there for each month, thereby saving travel time for the board members and staffs.
The issue will be discussed at the AFMA monthly meeting 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22 at the AFMA headquarters, 18818 N. Spanish Garden Drive.
Sun Lakes resident Dick Cherry, AFMA board member, is a champion for the move. He believes it will strengthen relationships and provide some political capital with the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.
It does, however, remove those meetings from the local communities and any resident who wanted to appear would have to travel to downtown Phoenix.
Noting that some residents might not be happy that the Authority meetings are leaving Sun City West, Mr. Cherry pointed out that special local interest meetings, such as the budget hearings, will still be conducted in the local district offices in the community.
“It will, however, give us the ability to have live streaming so local residents can watch the meeting live or recorded on their home computers,” said Sun City resident Diane Cheney, AFMA board member.
Sun City West resident Duane Robinson does not like the planned move, calling it a “bloody disaster.” He believes it would help alleviate his concerns with the local issues if meetings were conducted in Sun City West, but he’s still critical of the Authority organization.
“They have grown so big there, they have created their own problems,” he said.
“We love it. It’s a highly professional environment, and as we hope to grow with more organizations. It’s a good place to meet. It’s good for everyone,” Sun Lakes resident John Crawford, AFMA board member, said of the planned move.
Assistant Chief Troy Maloney, formerly the chief in Sun Lakes before the merger, said this communication ability will provide resident more transparency than they have seen in their lifetimes.
Visit www.afma.az.gov .