Voters show strong support for Summit Fire & EMS tax increase |

Voters show strong support for Summit Fire & EMS tax increase

The measure will increase tax revenue for the fire district by about $4.5 million in the first year

A Summit Fire & EMS Type 6 wildland fire engine is pictured June 2. Voters in the Summit Fire & EMS Fire Protection District voted to approve a property tax increase to support the organization’s efforts.
Sawyer D'Argonne/

Summit County residents have passed ballot Issue 6A based on the latest vote tallies Tuesday, Nov. 2, showing strong support for the tax increase meant to support ever-expanding operations at Summit Fire & EMS.

Residents in Dillon, Frisco, Silverthorne, Copper Mountain, Keystone and the rest of the Summit Fire & EMS Fire Protection District had an extra item on their ballot this year: a measure that would increase the district’s existing property tax by 4 mills, from 9 to 13 mills. The district expects the change to bring in an additional $4.5 million in tax revenue next year.

The measure had 3,844 votes in support, more than 58%, and 2,767 in opposition as of the latest results at 11:05 p.m. Tuesday.

“We are gratified and truly humbled by the support of our community, and we vow to continue upholding the trust that the public has placed in us by providing professional, courteous and respectful response to all emergencies and working to prevent them in the first place,” Summit Fire Chief Travis Davis said.

The Summit Fire & EMS Board of Directors added the measure to this year’s ballot in part due to the looming sunset of the Safety First tax, a ballot issue approved by Summit County voters in 2014 that provided funds for the former Summit County Ambulance Service. That tax revenue has been funneled toward Summit Fire operations since it absorbed the ambulance service in 2019, but it will expire at the end of next year, resulting in an expected revenue shortfall of $2.3 million in 2023.

But voters stepped up Tuesday to provide the district with additional funding and prevent a potentially troublesome financial situation for the organization.

For district residents, the tax increase will mean an additional $28.80 in property tax for every $100,000 in assessed value on their homes. For example, a homeowner with a property valued at $250,000 will see a tax increase from $162 to $234, a $72 difference. For a property valued at $500,000, the tax will increase from $324 to $468 for a difference of $144.

The new tax revenue will help to cover the costs of expanded ambulance services for the district moving forward and free up funds that the organization has promised to use on increased wildfire preparedness and mitigation efforts and to create a more robust presence on the north end of the county, including the eventual installation of a small response station in Silverthorne.

Davis thanked voters — those who cast their ballots for and against the measure — for sharing their opinions and helping to set a clear direction for the district moving forward. He promised that the district’s leadership would put the new tax revenue to good use in its continued efforts to provide quality emergency services to the community.

“This vote allows us to look toward the future and provide the services suited for the specific needs of our community,” Davis said. “It allows us to keep our medic resources in the community rather than being spread thinly with out-of-county transports, and it will keep us on the path toward our other priorities, including improving community wildfire preparedness and working on the design and construction of a proposed new fire station in Silverthorne. Rest assured that we will continue to be cautious stewards of taxpayer money, and conservative and transparent in our budgeting.”

Ballot language

Shall Summit Fire & EMS fire protection district taxes be increased $4,555,293 (first full fiscal year dollar increase) annually, beginning in levy year 2021 (for collection in calendar year 2022) by increasing the district’s existing property tax by 4.000 mills to a total of 13.000 mills, subject to the revenue stabilization adjustments approved by the district’s voters at the Nov. 6, 2018, general election, to be used for wildland firefighting, capital improvements, personnel, fire and emergency medical services, ambulance transport, and all other administrative and operational expenses, and shall all revenue and any earnings on the total property tax constitute a permanent voter-approved revenue change within the meaning of Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution and an exception to the limitations set forth in Section 29-1-301 of the Colorado Revised Statutes, and any other law?

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