KAJX

Fire districts seek support

Oct 13, 2015

Basalt Fire Chief Scott Thompson shows the trucks currently used at the El Jebel Station.
Credit Alycin Bektesh / Aspen Public Radio

Residents will be asked to support their local fire districts through property taxes in this fall’s election.

Mike Kennedy vice president of the board of directors, says a failed property tax question in 2013 came down to an unfamiliarity with the many roles of the district.

This year, the district is again asking voters to approve a ballot measure that would raise property taxes to help fund the fire department.

Kennedy says if the measure fails again, the fire district will not be able to function much longer.

 

Ballot issue 4B puts a 2-year sunset on the tax hike - something the 2013 measure did not have. It would amount to fifteen dollars per one hundred thousand dollars of property value.

 

The Carbondale & Rural Fire Protection District has been dipping into reserve funds for years to pay for basic safety equipment like the firefighters’ protective suits.
Credit Alycin Bektesh / Aspen Public Radio

The Carbondale Fire Department relies on a mix of paid staff and volunteers. Staff works for 48 hours at a time. Most days there are only two people on hand to respond to calls. Fire Chief Ron Leach says that over the last few years, emergency response time has grown and it’s been hard to staff simultaneous calls.

 

In Basalt, ballot measure 4A asks to extend a tax that residents are already paying. A 20 year bond will be all paid off this year, but Basalt Fire Chief Scott Thompson is hoping residents will be willing to continue paying the same amount to help maintain the Basalt & Rural Fire Protection District capital fund. The 20-year continuance would provide money for employee housing and big-ticket items like fire trucks. He says the growing population and new developments within the district require new equipment.