Mountain Vista Fire District has surpassed the number of signatures of owners and the amount of property value required to annex nearly four square miles of Northwest Tucson into its district for fire protection.

Meanwhile, three Northwest Fire District annexations in the nearby area are proceeding toward their February 28, 2013 filing deadlines.

Laura Halady, Mountain Vista’s special projects coordinator, said that 266 property owners have signed petitions in the Camino de Manana annexation area, well past the 237 signatures legally required out of the 472 properties in the area to be annexed.

Likewise, she said, the district also has surpassed the benchmark of 50 percent plus $1 of the assessed value of property in the area in order to be successful. Total assessed value of the annexation area is $13,507,197, Halady noted, according to 2011 Pima County tax roll figures.

“We will hand over the petitions at a special meeting January 4 of our board of directors,” Halady said. The board likely will direct the petitions to the Pima County Board of Supervisors, which could formally act on the annexation petitions at its January 22 meeting, she noted.

The Board of Supervisors’ approval is required, after statutory rules are met, to allow an area to be annexed into a fire district.

Mountain Vista’s Camino de Manana annexation encompasses the lion’s share of an area that Northwest Fire District tried to annex earlier this year, but did not succeed in doing so. Once Mountain Vista filed its annexation plan for the area, Northwest Fire put together three new annexation plans for nearby neighborhoods — Blue Bonnet, Marana Estates and Camino de Oeste II.

Those three annexations need to have their petitions validated by Pima County no later than Feb. 28, 2013, said Carla Reece, administrative manager for Northwest Fire District. Reece estimates the cutoff date for securing signatures on petitions would be around the first week of February, which would allow the district enough time to prepare the annexation package to send to the county.

For the Blue Bonnet annexation, Reece said 29 property parcels are included in the area. “We have 13 signatures on petitions,” she said, “and 16 signatures are needed for the annexation to succeed.” The 2013 assessed value of the properties is $835,832, she added.

In the Marana Estates annexation, Northwest Fire must get 18 signatures on petitions from the owners of the 33 parcels in the annexation area. Currently, nine property owners have signed petitions, Reece said. Total assessed property value is $266,432.

For the Camino de Oeste II annexation, with a total valuation of $1,208,237, Reece said Northwest needs 15 signatures out of 28 properties, but currently has only five. Reece noted that the Northwest Camino de Oeste II annexation area is adjacent to Mountain Vista’s Camino de Manana annexation and suggested that many property owners were awaiting the outcome of the Mountain Vista effort before signing a petition for the Northwest annexation.

Fire districts in Arizona are funded through a tax on secondary assessed values of property. Northwest Fire District’s tax rate is $2.41 per $100 of secondary assessed value, while Mountain Vista’s is $1.26 per $100 of secondary assessed value.

Reece noted that Northwest Fire has done numerous single parcel annexations in the area — 65 in the past year and a half.

“The majority of them were in the southern end of the Camino de Manana area adjacent to our fire district, while some were by the Ritz-Carleton and other areas,” she said. “We are working on getting people fire protection coverage wherever we can and are affording fire protection service to all three of the annexation areas until the efforts either pass or fail.”

Ed Wilkerson, chief of Mountain Vista Fire District, pointed out, “I want to stress that this is not a competition between Mountain Vista and Northwest Fire. Both organizations have common goals in wanting to have the area under fire protection coverage and to allow the people to have a choice in getting the service available to them.”

Wilkerson added that Mountain Vista is considering participating in the automatic mutual aid agreement that Northwest Fire has with several neighboring departments — Golder Ranch, Picture Rocks, Avra Valley and Three Points Fire Districts.

An automatic mutual aid program is one where the nearest and best type of apparatus is dispatched to an emergency call, regardless of district boundaries. Similar automatic aid programs have been in place for many years among approximately 22 fire districts around the Phoenix metropolitan area in Maricopa County.

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