Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Five measures aimed at fire district funding

MATT STEINER Updated: October 30, 2012 at 12:00 am

Five separate issues on the Nov. 6 ballot would enable some of the smaller fire districts in the Pikes Peak region to keep people safe and provide needed services, officials said.

While a few of those districts have requested property tax increases to add new equipment, employees or fire stations, the Tri-Lakes/Monument district simply hopes to avoid layoffs and the closure of one of its three stations.

“When we started to see an economic downturn, the district sat back because we had built some reserve accounts,” said Tri-Lakes/Monument Battalion Chief Bryan Jack. “All those reserve accounts are essentially depleted.”

Jack said the board is asking voters to approve a 3 mill increase that would bring in just over $1 million more each year in property tax. He said revenue numbers are out of date and the increase proposed in ballot Issue 5C would bring the numbers into 2012 and avoid a potential station closure and layoffs.

According to Fountain fire and the Security Fire Protection District, the passage of issues 2D and 5B respectively would mean eliminating current safety concerns, officials in the districts said.

If voters pass 5B, Security would add nine paid firefighters, Chief Ski Stambaugh said. The added personnel would allow the district to man each of its three stations with two firefighters on every shift instead of one.

Stambaugh said the national standard is to have four people per apparatus and at current revenue levels, his district has one firefighter in each truck.

“Firefighter safety is everything,” he said.

Fountain’s concern is more for safety of the citizens, according to City Clerk Silvia Mascarenas.

Issue 2D calls for a property tax increase of $975,000 in 2013 and would allow the building and staffing of a new fire station near the Cumberland Green subdivision, Mascarenas said. The town has grown by more than 50 percent since 2000 and Mascarenas said most of that growth has been eastward.

The clerk added that without the new station, the downtown firefighters will continue to head east whenever there’s a call. That leaves the downtown area vulnerable, she said.
“It’s beneficial for the entire city, not just out east,” Mascarenas said.

The Northeast Teller County Fire Protection District and Southwestern Highway 115 district are also asking voters to approve property tax boosts.

Teller officials hope added revenue would allow them to maintain current services and keep response times down, Chief Tyler Lambert said.

Chief Mel Ryan of the Southwestern Highway 115 district said approval of Issue 4A would mean a new 2,000-gallon tender truck for the water-challenged area and the chance to add two full-time employees to the staff.

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