Summit County Ballot Initiative 1A to fund wildfire mitigation, infrastructure projects
September 28, 2018
Editor's note: This is the first of several articles covering the issues funded by Summit County Ballot Initiative 1A.
Ballot Initiative 1A will be one of the top priorities for Summit voters in November. The ballot question asks voters to approve a temporary, decade-long mill levy on property taxes, raising commercial and residential taxes for county residents annually by $33.96 for every $100,000 of property value. The levy would raise $8.8 million a year for the next 10 years, depending on property value fluctuations.
Among the areas funded by the initiative are public infrastructure, which will be allotted $1.6 million a year, and wildfire mitigation, allotted $1 million a year. The county has a laundry list of projects for both that need funding.
For wildfire mitigation, the Summit County Wildfire Council has a "Get it done" list of high priority projects.
"They've put together a list based on areas of need in areas identified as highest-risk from wildfire," said county manager Scott Vargo.
Among the items for wildfire projects are items related to road access, fire lines and cistern projects to provide firefighters with water in remote areas. Other items include thinning and fuel break projects in the Boulder Creek, Ruby Ranch, Golden Horseshoe, Peak 7, Blue River, Lewis Ranch, Iron Springs and Bill's Ranch areas. Thinning also needs to be done in the Mesa Cortina area, where the Buffalo Mountain fire almost devoured two neighborhoods.
"All told, all the projects came out to a grand total of $10 million," Vargo said. "For the $1 million a year from the levy, that total will be raised over the life of the ballot initiative."
As far as public infrastructure, the county said it has a number of building repairs and maintenance projects that need to be done, along with the renovation and expansion of several county facilities.
High on that list is the need for a new emergency services building. Summit County Ambulance Service will be vacating their current building in the County Commons and moving to a joint administrative facility with Summit Fire. The vacant building will be refitted to be the new county emergency services building.
"Our intention is to turn much, if not all, of that space into a much more robust emergency operations center than we have currently, which is just a conference room," Vargo said.
Vargo also said that the county has had conversations with Summit County Seniors, Inc. to partner on an expansion of the county's Community and Senior Center for more meeting space.
Summit County Search and Rescue Group has also shown interest in part of the County Commons for a new building.
"That project is a ways out, and SCRG plans to do some fundraising on its own for their share of the project," Vargo said.
Vargo noted that once SCRG vacate their existing facility, the county plans to remodel it and move Road and Bridge staff to that facility.
Vargo says the county is also looking at a small expansion of the main Summit County Library branch in Breckenridge.
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