More than a dozen homeowners in Paradise Valley are more than one year behind in paying the fee that funds town fire departments.
Paradise Valley does not levy a local property tax; it pays the majority of its fire protection costs through a monthly fee on property owners. The fee ranges from $10 for an empty lot, up to $50 per month for a home that’s more than 6,000 square feet.
The top-three most extreme deadbeats, all of whom own a home worth more than $1 million, are more than three years behind on their fees, according to information obtained through a public records request.
The highest delinquent bill goes to the owner of 6100 E. Doubletree Ranch Road. The owner, identified in tax bills as Lazy T Bar Ranch LLC, is nearly 3 ½ years behind and has an outstanding fire service bill of $1,600, records show.
A man who identified himself as the homeowner drove away Wednesday after ABC15 asked about the unpaid fees.
Firefighters dispatched to a house fire do not check whether a fire fee has been paid, according to Russ Kirk of the Phoenix Fire Department. Paradise Valley pays Phoenix to staff town fire stations; most costs are split between Paradise Valley and Phoenix.
A man who used a vulgar term for the fire fee deadbeats is behind on the fire bill himself.
"Most of the people here can afford it very well,” Raymond Pepper said.
“Look around you, you see all these mansions.”
He said that health issues have led him to be more than a year behind on his bill, but plans to pay the balance soon.
More than 100 homeowners are at least one month behind, costing the town nearly $20,000, records show. More than 99 percent of fire fees are paid on time.
Paradise Valley can try to recoup unpaid fees by asking a judge to declare the homeowner in default, according to Andrew Miller, the town’s attorney.
Approximately 75 delinquent accounts have been closed since 2013 with the balances going unpaid.