Vote NO

on a Carefree

Property Tax

on May 16!

Founders Tom Darlington and KT Palmer NEVER envisioned a property tax for Carefree.

Vote NO

on a Carefree Property Tax

on May 16!

Carefree has NEVER had a property tax since its incorporation in 1984!


Our public safety is NOT at risk, has NEVER been at risk and WILL NOT be at risk!

This May election is NOT about safety; it is about money. After 38 years of self-reliance and economic prosperity through several economic recessions, why should we believe a Property Tax is necessary now? We should not.

A town with $16.4 million in Reserves does NOT need a property tax.

Instead of looking for ways to be more fiscally conservative and cutting unnecessary expenses, the current Administration continues to expand the town staff, hires expensive consultants, lawyers, and engineers while spending money on pet projects.

STOP the expansion of local government through a property tax. Demand of them to work efficiently to strengthen our economic basis before burdening the residents with a property tax. Don’t let anyone scare you into voting for an unnecessary tax that you can’t undo.


What is the difference between Automatic Aid, Mutual Aid and Mutual Aid Agreement?

Automatic Aid was established for large cities to leverage emergency resources from surrounding areas to service larger populations or congested geographic areas. It is a way to backfill resources where rescue units are busy or must handle multiple back-to-back emergency responses. It is a fact that large cities have substantially more calls than smaller towns because their resources are often spread thin, requiring ‘Aid’ from other nearby member communities.  

Mutual Aid refers to an informal agreement between Fire and EMS departments in an area helping each other at times when one community’s resources are tied up due to several emergencies, or for larger incidents, like Cave Creek’s wildfire, that required more firefighters than just one department could provide. Think neighbors helping neighbors in times of crisis. 

Mutual Aid Agreement is a formal agreement established between the different fire departments in an area. The difference between Mutual Aid and a Mutual Aid agreement is accounting. When Mutual Aid agreements are in place the fire department that called for help bears the burden of the costs for services provided by other departments. This is an accounting issue between fire departments. Again, Mutual Aid Agreement has nothing to do with safety, it has to do with accounting.

It is important for Carefree residents to understand the difference between these terminologies when trying to decipher the narrative that’s being spread by the Carefree administration. 

Since the town of Carefree has a Master Contract with Rural Metro, if there was a cost for another fire department’s assistance through Mutual Aid, Rural Metro pays the cost not the town! 

It is crucial for Carefree residents to understand why our situation with Rural Metro is very different from what evolved in Cave Creek. 

The situation in Cave Creek originated because Cave Creek decided NOT to sign a master contract with Rural Metro. The town manager did NOT want to pay for fire services and left it up to the individual Cave Creek homeowners to get coverage through the subscription model with Rural Metro Fire. Since the town of Cave Creek never paid for fire services and left everything up to the residents to fend for themselves, when the large wildfire occurred two years ago, the responding agencies sent the town of Cave Creek a very large bill afterwards. Cave Creek refused to pay and sent the bill to Rural Metro. However, since Cave Creek did not have any type of contract with Rural Metro, Rural Metro did not pay the bill. 

Cave Creek left its residents exposed with no master agreement for Fire coverage.  The town essentially enjoyed free fire service for the last 30+ years. The situation in Carefree is very different because we have a master contract with Rural Metro. Every resident and business is covered under that contract.  If Rural Metro requests Mutual Aid for Carefree, Rural Metro pays the bill, not Carefree. 


Automatic Aid is expensive and NOT EQUALLY BENEFICIAL for all participating communities.

Our small town is only 8.8 square miles compared to 37.7 square miles of Cave Creek and 184.4 square miles of Scottsdale.

Under Automatic Aid, our Emergency resources will end up being pulled to support larger communities with a substantially higher call volume for fire and emergency medical services (EMS) leaving Carefree paying more for less.

Why is the current administration calling for a change in Carefree’s emergency services now? Simple, they want to leverage fear to frighten you into believing that you are vulnerable in case of an emergency. Their narrative is deceptively FALSE. Did you know that house fires only make up 1% of our fire related calls in Carefree? We already have outstanding Fire and Emergency Medical Services with Rural Metro.


Don’t fix what is not broken!

Since 1968, Rural Metro has served Carefree for over 5 decades. Our firefighters have intimate knowledge of every inch of our 8.8 square miles town. They are familiar with our topography, they know all of our blind spots, and they understand our residents. Automatic Aid brings in outsiders who don’t know our town.

When you call 911, Rural Metro deploys a fire truck and an ambulance ON EVERY CALL. Since Rural Metro ambulance paramedics are also sworn firefighters, you get 5 firefighters, 3 are riding on the fire truck and 2 are riding on the ambulance.

This is not the case under Automatic Aid with Daisy Mountain. They dispatch their fire truck first and only call for an ambulance when they feel it is necessary for a medical transport. Also, Daisy Mountain, Scottsdale, and Phoenix ambulances only have civilian transporters, not paramedics. This is what paying more for less looks like.


Bottom line, this May 16 Special Election calling for a property tax is all about money, NOT safety!

The only goal of a Carefree property tax is to generate a GUARANTEED revenue stream for our local government to expand.

As clearly stated on the ballot, it is for a property tax. The ballot says nothing about Emergency services. Only in a separate town Resolution, which the Council can change at any time, does it mention the use for those Property Tax funds. And even there, it states only that the funds can be used for “Town Services,” a very non-specific reference.

Don’t forget that taxes only grow, they NEVER go away. Carefree IS SAFE and TAX FREE. Keep it that way. VOTE NO!

Still not convinced? READ ON for more FACTS...

"The majority of emergency calls in Carefree are EMS-Medical and not fire.

Rural Metro is uniquely positioned to respond to medical emergencies fast, since they automatically dispatch an ambulance on every call. This could save valuable time if a medical transport becomes necessary."

Firefighter Captain Mark Cichocki addressing

Carefree Town Council on 02/07/2023

Watch below:


Only eight months ago (6/07/2022) the Town Administrator praised Rural Metro for its outstanding service to Carefree. What changed ???

"Mr. Neiss highlights the outstanding service we have received from Rural Metro for half a century and emphasizes the continued outstanding service we can expect from them going forward."

Watch below:

You will soon learn that the claims put forth by the current town administration and their supporters are half-truths, a little of the truth and a lot of ‘stuff’ besides the truth.

We are here to give you only the FACTS!

Here are 12 Facts why you should Vote NO:


ALL of our Fire, Emergency Medical Services and Fire Prevention Services are currently being paid for by Carefree Town Revenue and will continue to do so without a Property Tax. 

Carefree is a small town of only 8.8 square miles and yet we have our own dedicated Fire Station equipped with two fire engines, a state-of-the-art ambulance called Rescue Unit at our town's disposal at all times and a dedicated Fire Chief who works for us and answers to us.

Our 8.8 square mile topography does not have large open wild land where wildfires can spread out of control compared to Cave Creek or Scottsdale. In the last 20 years we had two real fires (Old ‘Dick Van Dyke’ studio fire in 2016 and the ‘Wedding Cake’ house fire in 2022).

Currently we have an outstanding Fire & EMS system with Rural Metro through Carefree Town’s Revenue. Why would we want to burden Carefree residents with a permanent Property Tax and pay $2.9M to go to Automatic Aid with Daisy Mountain for less than ideal service?

Bottom line, Automatic Aid costs more and won’t make us safer!


Rural Metro response time in Carefree is consistently faster than the NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency) standards

The NFPA Standard 1710 establishes a 320 second or 5 minutes and 20 seconds “response time” goal for not less than 90% of these type incidents.

Carefree residents need to know that Rural Metro has one of the best response times in the business. This is especially important since over 90% of the day-to-day calls in Carefree are for medical emergencies.

Property Tax supporters claimed that more than one quarter of all Carefree residents no longer meet the 4-minute response standard set by the National Fire Protection Agency. This is absolutely FALSE! Take a look at the data for yourself.

Under Automatic Aid, we can kiss goodbye to fast response times.


Rural Metro firefighters have over 30 years of knowledge of the Town of Carefree which translates into valuable seconds of response time while Automatic Aid personnel could be deployed from anywhere. Outside firefighters do not know our town.

Our Rural Metro Carefree firefighters & EMTs have intimate knowledge of our town that no amount of money can buy. They know every street, gate, driveway, fire hydrant, buildings, businesses and access roads to the urban interface (areas of transition between wilderness and land developed by human activity that you can’t find on a Google Map). They have specifically developed every emergency response road map, special area map, and building maps over their years of service in Carefree. Rural Metro knows all of our town’s blind spots, they get our town’s personality and they understand our residents. This is all incredibly valuable information that we won’t have with firefighters being deployed from Daisy Mountain, Scottsdale or Phoenix. 

We are currently 100% in control of our fire department. Under Automatic Aid, our 8.8 square mile town will be part of a bigger bureaucratic conglomerate of 747 square miles which means Daisy Mountain, Scottsdale and Phoenix do not have to answer to our small town.  The Central Command in Maricopa County would make all the decisions.

Why would we want to pay more for less knowledge and no control?


Actual life threatening fires make up only 1% of the Emergency calls in Carefree. 

Town information shows that 10.1% (of 55 responses) of calls were fire related. What it doesn’t specify is that these calls include false alarms, smothering trash can fires in bathrooms, car fires, warming fires in the backyards, or outside trash can fires, etc. Although alarming, these fires do not have life safety concerns, Rural Metro can handle them without further assistance; and we certainly do not need 3 engines and 15 firemen deployed on all these calls.

Carefree had two (2) real fires in the last 20 years. We are safe! Our neighbors are safe! Our town is very safe under Mutual Aid.

We don’t need to burden Residents with a $2M Property Tax to insure 1% of the calls.


Rural Metro offered to upgrade Carefree to a 4-men engine. Our Town Administrator declined.

The 4-man Engine (Daisy Mountain) vs. the 3-man Engine (Rural Metro) narrative is misleading for two reasons. 

First, when we signed the new contract with Rural Metro, they specifically asked the Town of Carefree if we would like to pay a little more to have an additional firefighter on the fire truck putting us on par with Daisy Mountain/Scottsdale/Phoenix as a 4-man engine. Our Town Administrator declined. Now, the Town is using this as a data point to sway Carefree residents to abandon Rural Metro and go with Daisy Mountain. 

Second, what they don’t tell you is that under Automatic Aid Daisy Mountain and Scottsdale fire departments rely solely on their four (4) firefighter engines at the scene and only call for an ambulance when they feel it is necessary for a medical transport. In the case of a medical emergency, this can lead to unnecessary delays.

On the other hand, Rural Metro dispatch both the fire truck and the ambulance ON EVERY CALL. This means you have 3 firefighters riding on the fire truck and 2 paramedics riding on the ambulance who are all sworn firefighters. Under this configuration, Carefree residents get 5 firefighters including paramedics on the scene at all times ready to handle all sorts of emergencies. This is important for Carefree residents to understand, especially when 90% of our day-to-day calls are for medical emergencies.

Be careful of how information can be distorted or intentionally omitted to frighten us into an unnecessary Property Tax.


Rural Metro Fire (Carefree’s Fire Department since 1968) has a built-in Automatic Aid system to ensure that our 8.8 square miles town always has coverage.

Carefree has two (2) fire engines and one (1) state-of-the-art ambulance called Rescue Unit housed in the Carefree fire station at all times. As soon as a Carefree’s emergency Rescue Unit is dispatched to a location, Rural Metro automatically moves up a second Rescue Unit into Carefree for coverage. When the second unit is deployed to an emergency, the third Rescue Unit is moved in position in the Carefree to ensure that Carefree always has coverage (a domino type effect). Again, this is important when 90% of our day-to-day calls are for medical emergencies.

Multiple times this past year (2022) there had been four (4) emergencies at the same time in Carefree. ALL were handled expeditiously by Rural Metro, because of the above mentioned protocols. 

Under the Automatic Aid system, there won’t be any move ups because our emergency resources are far more likely to be pulled away to support Cave Creek, Scottsdale or Phoenix rather than remaining available to protect Carefree residents. No Rescue Unit in Carefree. No second fire engine with a paramedic. When Carefree needs help, the most likely scenario is that a fire engine will respond from an unknown location and when an ambulance is eventually called, it will be staffed with only civilian transporters, not real paramedics.

Property Tax supporters claimed two things that are either FALSE or IRRELEVANT:

1. “Our nearest mutual aid partner is about 30 minutes away.” This claim is IRRELEVANT, because Rural Metro will always move fire engines and emergency rescue units in place immediately when one is deployed somewhere else.

2. “…with Automatic Aid, the standard response will be three (3) fire engines and 15 firefighters, and all will be automatically and immediately dispatched.” This claim is both FALSE and IRRELEVANT.

If something major occurs in multiple locations throughout the Valley, there are not enough engines and firefighters to deploy three (3) trucks and 15 firefighters to EVERY CALL. With a population of 4.5 million people in the Valley, there are not enough resources to deploy that many firefighters and fire engines to every call.

3. Fifteen (15) firefighters might be needed on high rise building fires in Scottsdale or Phoenix, not on a one or two-story house or commercial building in Carefree — don’t forget, the single tallest structure in Carefree is the four-story Hampton Inn and that building already has a state-of-the-art fire protection system in place.

Under Automatic Aide, the quality of care in Carefree will be diminished, not improved.


If Carefree goes on Automatic Aid, we are contractually tied to a fire district for 25 years.

Once contractually tied to a fire district, Carefree can no longer control costs for our fire and emergency services. In other words, the Regional County Board of Supervisors running the fire district can raise the cost of services citing economic hardship or inflation, forcing us to pay higher costs than we were told at the start of the contract. Under a 25 year contract, our hands will be tied. We either can’t get out of the contract or we won’t have a fire department if we do. Once Rural Metro is gone, they are gone forever.

This fact is especially important as we may be heading into an economic recession with a projected inflation rate up to 12.3% in Arizona (Business Insider 2023), your Carefree Property Tax won’t stay “moderate” for long. 

Moving to Automatic Aid right now is short-sighted, expensive, unnecessary, and an irresponsible course of action for Carefree.


Rural Metro is the nation’s largest ambulance company.

Rural Metro is one of the largest providers of ground and air medical transport in the country backed by its parent company Global Medical Response with over 36,000 employees, 8,100 ambulances and 167 fire vehicles. They hold the FEMA contracts for natural disasters throughout the United States. We are one radio call away from an abundance of emergency resources to assist us in case of a major disaster. Carefree is definitely in good hands with Rural Metro.


Carefree Fire Department under Rural Metro Fire has added a wildland fire engine to the Carefree fire station, Brush 821.

This (type 3 fire engine) carries 300 gallons of water and specialized wildland firefighting equipment that will allow firefighters faster access to the difficult to reach terrains. That’s pretty good for a town of 8.8 square miles, don’t you think?

FACT #10

Carefree does not have a ladder truck because it is not needed for a house or a 2-story building fire in Carefree.

Ladder trucks are operationally used to carry extrication tools and a fixed mounted ladder to reach higher areas than the commonly used ground ladders. Once a ladder truck is parked and engaged at an emergency, it is unable to be moved again, because stabilizing ground jacks are deployed. Why is this important? Because a ladder truck is not necessary for a house or a typical building fire in Carefree.

The tallest building in Carefree is the four-story Hampton Inn (considered a low-rise building by the firefighters.)  Because this is a new structure, this hotel is equipped with the latest and most sophisticated fire protection systems, including sprinklers, standpipes, and alarms. If there was EVER a life safety issue at the hotel and a ladder truck is needed, the City of Scottsdale would respond and assist us. 

Bottom line, Rural Metro is more than equipped to protect 8.8 square miles of Carefree for all types of emergencies.

FACT #11

The ‘professional’ fire expert hired to advise us on Automatic Aid never worked a day in the Automatic Aid System.

The $75 per hour Fire Expert hired to be our advisor spent 35 years with Rural Metro, the past 16 years as Carefree Fire Chief. He became angry and disgruntled with his job one day and just got up from his desk after lunch, leaving his car keys, badge, and computer and walked out of the Carefree fire station without telling anyone. His position was unmanned for over 12 hours. Of course, this incident was reported to the current Town Administrator.

Why did the town hire him back as the ‘professional’ Fire consultant especially when he has never worked a day in the Automatic Aid system? Is he really qualified to give us advice? Were any other candidates considered? Who hired him, and what criteria was used to determine his qualifications? How was this professional or ethical? It is neither.

Where are the checks and balances in Carefree? Who is in charge in Carefree?

FACT #12

The Town of Carefree has yet to develop its most valuable commercial land at the NE corner of Carefree Hwy and Cave Creek Road to generate additional sales tax revenue.

This commercial corridor has a proven track record of generating some of the highest sales tax for Cave Creek. WalMart for example, is Cave Creek's #1 sales tax generator. Imagine how much sales tax revenue a Trader Joe’s could bring to Carefree. This land is already zoned commercially and has been a topic for development since April 2015.

Perhaps the reason it has not been touched is because of NIMBY (not in my backyard) politics — certain council members had actively campaigned against any commercial development in this area because they live in Sentinel Rock, or nearby. 

Carefree voters, this area needs to be developed before any property tax can even be discussed. It is not fair for a small selfish group of people to hold our ENTIRE town hostage. 


Who is behind Keep Carefree Tax Free?

Keep Carefree Tax Free is a group of concerned residents joining together to lend a voice of reason and bringing clarity to the issues surrounding our Fire and Emergency Medical Services that is missing from the current narrative. 

We are nonpartisan and our only agenda is to provide Carefree residents with all the necessary information so that we will not be frightened into a Property Tax that we can’t undo.

As a group, we want and demand a higher degree of integrity, openness and accountability from our elected officials. We believe that through critical thinking, asking difficult questions, and sharing only the facts leads to greater transparency and better decision making for our community.

Our website is designed to answer questions, look behind the political facade, and focus only on the facts. We all moved here to get away from irresponsible policies and out of control taxation. Let’s keep our 8.8 square mile community pristine and beautiful. Help us Keep Carefree Tax Free.

Vote NO

Stay in touch to keep updated on everything surrounding the unprecedented demand for a property tax by the Carefree Town Administration.

To help, please send donations to:

Keep Carefree Tax Free PAC

P.O. Box 2014

Carefree, AZ 85377

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