Sahuarita fire coverage dispute settled

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- A turf war in Sahuarita pits one fire department versus another.

People in several northern neighborhoods sought to switch their service from privately run Rural Metro to the Green Valley Fire District, but Monday a deadlock on the Pima County Board of Supervisors put those plans on hold.

One by one they came up to the mic at the Pima County Board of Supervisors meeting.

There was no shortage of comments related to the bitter battle between the Green Valley Fire and Rural Metro over sections of Sahuarita.

But Monday after a second 2-2 vote in two weeks, the request of one fire department and town were denied.

"I think it totally denies us, who voted by our signatures.  That's what we were told by both Rural and Green Valley," said Ray Wardlaw.

"They've done the right thing because they're holding people accountable and citing the law, which is all that we can ask them to do," said Anne Marie from the Rural Metro Fire Department.

The fight has been lengthy.  Many Sahuarita residents requested annexation into the Green Valley Fire District.

After their first attempt to get signatures fell short, annexation advocates received an extension and finally got the signatures they needed.

But the validity of those signatures came into play and the fate of the annexation fell into the hands of the Pima County Board of Supervisors.

After a 2-2 vote two weeks ago, they voted again.  And again it came in at 2-2, and under state law, a tie means the petition to annex is denied.

"I believe there should be some additional thing because the one that was recanted basically a purchase vote because its an automatic no," said Wardlaw.

"We want to secure jobs for our fire fighters," said Marie.  "We want to stay in the area and we want to build a station and grow with the community."

And where we go from here, gets a little hazy.

"We'd love to build a station and move on from this event," said Marie.

Rural Metro's contract with the town is up next year and the company plans to seek an extension for the long term.

In both votes, District 2 Supervisor and Board Chairman Ramón Valadez abstained due to a conflict of interest, that being he is a Rural Metro employee.