West Routt, Yampa fire districts ask voters for more tax dollars | SteamboatToday.com

West Routt, Yampa fire districts ask voters for more tax dollars

West Routt Fire Department fire trucks arrive near the scene of an oil well fire on private property at Wolf Mountain Ranch.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The West Routt and Yampa fire protection districts are going to voters in November for help with an issue that is impacting rural fire departments throughout the state.

The fire districts have been seeing declines in revenues in recent years because of the Gallagher Amendment.

Each district has two questions on the ballot. One question is a revenue stabilization measure meant to lessen the impact from the Gallagher Amendment, and the second question — Referendum 6B in Yampa and 6D in West Routt — asks voters to increase the mill levy.

In West Routt, the fire department’s call volume is up 11 percent this year and up 20 percent since 2013. Yampa also has seen an increase in calls.

"We've been gradually going up," Yampa Chief Machia Cox said. "We're at numbers now where we are usually at at the end of the year."

West Routt Fire Chief Dal Leck said the decreases in revenue have 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.

West Routt voters will be asked to raise the property tax by 2 mills. This will help make up for the loss of revenue in recent years.

The tax increase in West Routt would raise a projected $253,509 in the first year.

The proposed 4.529-mill tax increase in Yampa would raise a projected $116,409.47 in the first year.

"We're going to use the money to beef up infrastructure and purchase equipment," Cox said.

He added the district would also like to hire its first full-time firefighter/paramedic. Cox said most of the department’s safety gear is 10 years old, and the vehicles in the fleet, on average, are from 1998.

In West Routt, 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.

In Yampa, the owner of a $100,000 home would pay about $27.67 more per year in property taxes, and the owner of a $100,000 commercial building would pay $131.34 more per year.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.

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