Fire protection district to pay back some fees paid by builders

March 14, 2017 Updated: March 14, 2017 at 2:04 pm
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photo - he Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District is returning part of a controversial impact fee to builders amid questions about the steps taken to approve it. Photo via Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District.
he Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District is returning part of a controversial impact fee to builders amid questions about the steps taken to approve it. Photo via Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District. 

For nearly a decade, the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District collected fees from builders to help the organization provide services to a growing community.

But now, part of that impact fee is being returned to builders amid questions about the steps taken to approve it.

The fee was $700 per home, said Fire Chief Chris Truty, but the organization stopped collecting it in late 2015 after a records review revealed that the fire district did not take the proper steps when it passed a resolution to implement the fee in 2006.

The fire district covers 68 square miles and includes more than 30,000 inhabitants in Monument and portions of north El Paso County, according to its website.

To get the fee, the organization went to town officials and the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department - but it should have also gone to the Board of County Commissioners, Truty said.

And in 2011, when the fee was renewed, the organization should have had the town and county approve it again, he said.

"In 2016, when the state statute was clarified, there was even confusion at the state level," Truty said. "Rather than push the issue," they decided to stop and assess. In its initial form, the applicable state statute, which allowed local governments to implement impact fees, didn't specify procedures for fire protection districts, Truty said.

The money collected was primarily used to pay for breathing apparatuses for the firefighters and payments on the fleet, including firetrucks and ambulances, Truty said.

It is unclear how many builders this may impact, and the process to return the fee hasn't yet begun.

To make a claim, builders have to go to the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District and show how many homes they paid the fees on, Truty said. Funds to pay back the builders are available from "restricted account set up for the collection of impact fees to be used for future capital expenditures," according to a news release.

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The Gazette's Kaitlin Durbin contributed to this report.

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Contact Ellie Mulder: 636-0198

Twitter: @lemarie

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