West Routt Fire District asks voters for additional funding
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The West Routt Fire Protection District is going to voters in November for help with an issue that is impacting rural fire departments throughout the state.
The West Routt department has been seeing declines in revenues in recent years because of the Gallagher Amendment.
Gallagher has been part of Colorado’s constitution since 1982, and it limits how much tax burden is placed on homeowners versus commercial property owners.
West Routt Fire Protection District Board President Ross Fralick said Gallagher has led to a 5 percent drop in revenue every year for the past four years.
“And we don’t see it turning back the other way,” Fralick said.
The drop in revenue comes as the department’s call volume is up 11 percent this year and up 20 percent since 2013.
Fire Chief Dal Leck said the decrease in revenue has hurt his department’s ability to maintain equipment and facilities.
“With a loss in revenue, we find it hard to keep everything up the way it should be, and it’s got us very concerned,” Leck said.
Fralick said voters will be asked to raise the property tax by two mills. This will help make up for the loss of revenue in recent years.
The tax increase would raise a projected $253,509 annually.
The owner of a $100,000 home would pay about $14.40 more per year in property taxes, and the owner of a $100,000 commercial building would pay $58 more per year.
Fralick said the board did not ask for a larger tax increase because Hayden residents voted for school and city tax issues last November, which will raise citizens taxes.
“We’ve just been cautious not to ask too much when others are asking too,” Fralick said.
Fralick said he has heard a committee of citizens is forming to advocate for the tax increase.
The North Routt Fire Protection District was also being impacted by Gallagher. During a special election in May, voters there approved a tax increase to compensate for the loss in revenue.
North Routt had seen a 28 percent decrease in property tax revenue since 2010.
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In an effort to connect better with their voters, Steamboat Springs City Council members will begin tabling at Ski Free Sundays, which are every Sunday at Howelsen Hill.