Four of five fire districts that serve the northwest side have raised their tax rates for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

Tax rates are based on the secondary assessed value of property, which homeowners pay through property taxes.

Golder Ranch is increasing its rate from $1.59 to $1.82 per $100 of secondary assessed valuation; Mountain Vista is going from $1.26 to $1.46; Northwest Fire is climbing from $2.52 to $2.69 and Picture Rocks is upping its rate from $3.15 to $3.25.

Avra Valley is holding steady at $3.25.

Mountain Vista Chief Ed Wilkerson said the district had to increase its rate because it had depleted surplus funds it had been using to maintain the budget in the last few years. He said the rate increase, the district's first in two years, will help the district be "sustainable going into the future" - a sentiment echoed by the other fire districts raising rates.

Mountain Vista was formed in 2008 with the merger of Heritage Hills, North Ranch/Linda Vista and La Cañada Fire Districts.

Golder Ranch Battalion Chief Josh Hurguy said the district's budget has suffered due to more than six years of declining property values, necessitating the increase.

"This is allowing us to maintain our level of service," he said.

It was Mountain Vista's first increase since 2009.

Trina Motto, spokeswoman for Northwest Fire, said via email that the district is raising its rates because of declining property values. It was the first increase since 2008.

Picture Rocks Chief Brett Lane said it was the district's first increase since 2009.


Some fire districts count their service areas by homes, and others do so by number of residents. Many northwest-side fire district maps have jagged borders and wide holes.

Avra Valley serves 11,500 people in northern Pima and southern Pinal Counties. Picture Rocks serves 3,000 homes in the unincorporated community near Marana. Mountain Vista serves 12,300 homes north of Ina Road, west of North Thornydale Road. Northwest serves 110,000 residents south of the Tortolita Mountains and includes Gates Pass and areas north. Golder Ranch serves 60,000 residents over 222 square miles, including most of Oro Valley, Catalina and SaddleBrooke.

Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or