The $11.8 billion budget passed by Arizona lawmakers Monday will double a revolving account set up in 2016 to pay local fire agencies that respond to fires on federal land.
Fire agencies throughout the state have long sought an increase to the $10 million stabilization fund and are pleased to see the fund boosted to $20 million, Green Valley Fire District Chief Chuck Wunder said Tuesday.
For the past few years, Arizona fire agencies have had to wait months to be reimbursed for the costs associated with fighting federal wildland fires, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars. Increasing the stabilization fund should help, Wunder said. "We've been working hard and hopefully this will provide some relief to those agencies that have been carrying the debt," Wunder said.
The way it's supposed to work is this: Local fire agencies respond to federal wildland fires, the state pays the agencies out of the stabilization fund, and then the state asks for reimbursement from the federal government.