Queen Creek officials had their first meeting with Rural/Metro Fire Department on Friday to push for refunds for town residents who paid for fire service subscriptions no longer needed.
Rural/Metro subscribers were promised refunds by company representatives when Queen Creek started a municipal fire department in January, but a statement issued by the fire service company earlier this year indicates they feel no obligation to pay the refunds.
For years, Rural/Metro provided fire service on a subscription basis to the Queen Creek area. When the town took over fire service Jan. 1, some residents had already paid for coverage past December.
Town Manager John Kross said that excess subscription money owed to town residents totals $238,000.
Last year, Rural/Metro officials told town leaders that refunds would be issued if subscriptions were overpaid. In turn, town leaders asked residents to make sure their subscriptions were paid until the town could take over fire service. Refunds were also promised in past interviews the Tribune had with Rural/Metro officials before the fire service change over.
Kross said he is “cautiously optimistic” about the meeting, and he would continue to push for the refunds.
“They are pointing at auditor findings and contract commitments,” Kross said of Rural/Metro officials. “We want to get past that so we can work cooperatively so that it’s a win-win for everybody. The ball is really in Rural’s court to offer a resolution to this matter.”
Mayor Art Sanders, who attended the nearly two-hour meeting last week, said he got the feeling the company wants to do everything it can to take care of the refunds.
“We’re going to continue to work for the refunds because we only represented to our people what was told to us by Rural/Metro,” Sanders said. “This doesn’t sit well with me, and we’re going to continue until it gets fixed.”
In the meeting, Rural/Metro officials pointed fingers at people who no longer work for the company, saying they should not have promised refunds, Sanders said.
“It’s not acceptable to hear, ‘We said that but those people don’t work for Rural/Metro anymore,’ ” Sanders said.
In a statement issued by Rural/Metro, officials said they met with Queen Creek, and “no solutions were produced at that time regarding the issue of refunds to the residents in that area. We are still in discussions with the town to work towards a solution that can hopefully benefit residents.”