Come November, citizens in the Wescott Fire Protection District will decide whether or not to approve a tax increase to help fund the fire district.
Ballot issue 5A is asking for an increase of four additional mills which would bring the mill levy to a total of 11 mills. Citizens of the neighboring Black Forest Fire Protection District approved a mill levy to increase the district’s mills to 10.38 in 2011 and last year citizens approved a mill levy override for the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District to 11.50 mills.
One of the reasons the fire district is seeking an MLO is to hire more firefighters.
“There’s not enough firefighters,” Assistant Fire Chief Scott Ridings said.
“We need to staff out trucks appropriately. It’s better for the community and the firefighters.”
The last two years of wild land fires was proof to the district of how they needed to hire more firefighters.
Ridings and Fire Chief Vinnie Burns said they have volunteer firefighters but additional full-time firefighters are still needed.
If the MLO is passed it will allow them to bring in more firefighters and make capital improvement projects. It would also help fund equipment needed down the road.
It will also help increase wild land mitigation equipment and help to purchase new uniforms and gear for the new firefighters.
Burns said if the MLO doesn’t pass they won’t be closing any stations or laying off staff but it will have an effect.
“The worst that would happen is inflation would exceed growth. There will be pay freezes at some point until the economy turns over,” Burns said.
The exact wording of the ballot text is:
“Shall Donald Wescott Fire Protection District taxes be increased by $982,567 annually, or by such amount as may be raised by the imposition of a mill levy increase of four mills (for a total mill levy of 11 mills) upon taxable property within the district, commencing with the tax collection year 2014 and continuing each year thereafter as otherwise allowed by law, and by whatever amounts are received each year thereafter, with such revenues, together with any and all other revenues to be collected, retained and spent by the district, with such proceeds to be used for general operations which may include, but are not limited to: funding the general fund of the district, defraying operating expenses of the district, and/or other lawful purposes; and shall the proceeds of such taxes and any investment income thereon be collected and spent by the district as a voter approved revenue change in 2014, and in each year thereafter without regard to any spending, revenue-raising, or other limitations contained within article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution, or Section 29-1-301, Colorado Revised Statutes, and without limiting in any year the amount of other revenues that may be collected and spent by the district?”
The last time a mill levy override was approved was in 2002.