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Frye v. South Phoenix Volunteer Fire Co.

Supreme Court of Arizona

November 13, 1950

FRYE et al., constituting Board of Supervisors of Maricopa County
v.
SOUTH PHOENIX VOLUNTEER FIRE CO.

Page 652

Judgment affirmed.

Warren L. McCarthy, County Atty., Anthony O. Jones, Deputy Co. Atty., Phoenix, for appellants.

Robert C. Moore, of Phoenix, for appellee.

Phelps, Justice. La Prade, C. J., and Udall, Stanford, and De Concini, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Phelps, Justice.

Page 653

[71 Ariz. 165] The South Phoenix Volunteer Fire Department, plaintiff-appellee, seeks to compel the members of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, defendants-appellants, to pay to appellee a sum certain as fixed by the provisions of section 16-2007, A.C.A.1939 as amended, for required equipment of the fire department and its maintenance, claiming that the provisions in said section relating thereto are mandatory. Upon the refusal of the board to make such payment the company instituted this action in mandamus. After a hearing, judgment was entered by the court granting the writ requiring appellants to make the payment claimed by the company. From this judgment the board appeals and assigns the order and entry of such judgment as error.

The question presented to the trial court, as well as here, is one of law and the results reached by this court must rest exclusively upon the interpretation of section 16-2007, as amended, supra. This section as amended reads as follows:

"16-2007. County Contribution -- Estimate of expenses and tax levy. -- The board of supervisors may ascertain the value of all vehicles registered between January 1 and July 1 of each year from within the boundaries of the territory described in the order of the board authorizing the [71 Ariz. 166] organization of a volunteer fire company, and on or before July 10 of each year may pay into the volunteer fire company fund of such territory an amount equal to one and two-tenths [1.2] per cent of such value. Not more than ten [10] days after the organization of a volunteer fire company is perfected, and thereafter not later than July 10 of each year, the chief and the secretary-treasurer of such company may submit to the board of supervisors an estimate, certified by items, of the amount of money required for the equipment and maintenance of the company for the ensuing year, less the amount derived from the county as hereinabove provided. (Emphasis supplied.)

"The board shall approve the estimate or modify the same, and shall levy a tax, not to exceed twelve [12] mills on each dollar of taxable valuation, against all property situated within the boundaries of the territory described in the order of the board authorizing the organization of said company and appearing upon the last assessment roll. The levy shall be made and the taxes collected in the manner, at the time, and by the officers provided by law for the collection of state and county taxes. The county treasurer shall keep the money received from said taxes in a separate fund known as the 'Volunteer Fire Company Fund' of the town or settlement for which collected." (Emphasis supplied.)

The organization of volunteer fire companies was first provided for under the provisions of chapter 69, Session Laws of 1913, Third Special Session. The organization of such fire companies was first restricted to unincorporated towns but the law was amended by chapter 98, Session Laws of 1919 to include outside areas.

We may safely assume from the early enactment of this law and the provisions therein for the maintenance of such a company through taxation levied as other taxes are levied, at first only upon improvements on real property within the district but from 1919 to date levied on both real and personal property located therein, that the legislature deemed such organizations to be necessary for the protection of property in the densely populated areas. The law has, from its inception, made it mandatory that the cost and maintenance of the equipment of voluntary fire companies be borne by taxes levied on property within the territory benefitted thereby, and that the board was required to make a tax levy sufficient to cover such expenses not in excess, however, of seven (7) mills per taxable dollar value ...


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