Fire district votes Tuesday
summit daily news
SUMMIT COUNTY ” Two of Summit County’s fire districts will ask their respective voters to cast ballots on separate issues Tuesday, the designated polling day for special districts.
Breckenridge’s Red, White and Blue Fire Protection District will be asking its voters to support a mill levy increase, while voters in the Snake River area will decide whether to officially include the Snake River Fire Department into the Lake Dillon Fire Authority.
Lake Dillon Fire Authority and the Red, White and Blue Fire District are separate entities.
Red, White and Blue asks for property tax increase
Voters in and around Breckenridge will decide Tuesday whether to boost the department’s budget by passing a property tax increase of up to 1.8 mills.
The increase would be allotted gradually as the fire board sees fit, and taxes most likely won’t go up all at once, said fire chief Gary Green.
Taxpayers within the department’s boundary ” which stretches from Hoosier Pass on the south to the Frisco town limits to the north, the Continental Divide to the east and the Tenmile Range to the west ” currently contribute 7.2 mills to the department.
The department is asking voters to raise the mill levy to up to 9 mills.
“We have to tell the taxpayers the maximum they could be assessed; however, I can tell you for the next two to three years the taxpayers can expect a far less tax assessment than (9 mills),” Green said.
If the increase is approved, the fire department will use the money to replace a 15-year-old front-line fire engine with a smaller all-hazards response vehicle, to address maintenance issue in the Main Street station and the south station in Blue River and to continue providing fire and life safety services during current and anticipated growth of the area, including the development of the Peak 7 and Peak 8 base areas in Breckenridge, Green said.
The mill levy increase translates into about a $15 tax increase for every $100,000 of the actual market value of a home. The maximum increase of 1.8 mills would generate about $900,000 per year for the fire department.
The department staffs 37 career firefighters who man stations on Tiger Road, Main Street and in Blue River 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In the past four years since the last property tax increase, Red, White and Blue has gone from a primarily volunteer department, with 59 non-paid firefighters, to a fully career firefighter operation. With that, response times have dropped from six minutes to three-and-a-half minutes in the Breckenridge core area, Green said.
Lake Dillon Fire Authority seeks inclusion
Across the county, homeowners in Montezuma, Summit Cove, Keystone Summerwood will cast ballots as to whether the Snake River Fire Protection District should be officially included in the Lake Dillon Fire Authority.
The two fire departments have been acting as one entity since January 2005, but in order to legally form one department, voters must ratify the dissolution of the Snake River Fire Department, and the inclusion of the fire department’s district into Lake Dillon Fire Authority.
For the inclusion to pass, the majority of voters must answer “yes” to both questions on the ballot.
Voters will not be deciding on any sort of monetary question, and the mill levy will remain 8.808 for Snake River homeowners regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s vote.
“It’s pretty much a housekeeping kind of election to put it into one legal entity and have one board (of directors),” said fire chief Dave Parmley. “It was the most cost effective way we could go about this.”
An alternative to the inclusion would have been consolidating the two districts, which would have been more expensive and complicated, Parmley said.
Parmley said the inclusion will simplify the governance of the fire districts by creating a single taxing base for general operations.
If voters approve the inclusion, the Lake Dillon Fire Protection District will provide all firefighting and emergency services to 200 square miles including Frisco, Silverthorne, Dillon, Keystone, Loveland Pass and the Interstate 70 corridor.
Official voting places
” Lake Dillon Fire Authority: Summit Cove Fire Station, 0434 Summit Drive. Only those in the Snake River Fire Department’s district (Montezuma, Summerwood, Summit Cove and Keystone taxpayers) are eligible to vote.
” Red, White and Blue Fire Department: 316 N. Main Street, Breckenridge
The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13625, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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