Montrose, CO – Citing public safety and the need to prevent the closure of a local fire station, a pair of local residents urged city councilors to pledge the city’s support for local firefighters as the Montrose Fire Protection District seeks additional mill levy revenues to offset shrinking operating budgets.
Councilors reviewed the language of a proposed resolution Monday that would state the City’s support for the Montrose Fire Protection District’s Referendum 7A. The 7A measure, which heads for voter approval November 6, would increase the mill levy for the Montrose Fire Protection District up 0.429 mills to produce $175,048 in 2019 to compensate for funding lost under the Gallagher Amendment, the Residential Assessment Rate and the Taxpayer Bill of Rights or TABOR.
Local residents John Nelson and Jim Haugsness, who crafted the resolution, urged councilors during the work session Monday, to support 7A to prevent a loss of fire-fighting services. Councilors stated they would discuss the resolution at their next work session October 15. The council could then place the resolution on their regular meeting agenda for approval on October 16.
“Due to the unavoidable consequences of the disastrous interplay of the Gallagher Amendment, the declining Residential Assessment Rate and the TABOR Amendment, the Montrose Fire Protection District has suffered a loss of tax income of over $800,000 since 2011,” the draft resolution in its draft form reads. “Unless the Montrose Fire Protection taxes are increased by $175,048, commencing in 2019 and thereafter by such additional mill levy up to 0.429 for a total District property tax rate not to exceed 8.991 mills, and implement a moving adjustment mill levy to produce a level income, the District will be required to reduce all services, including the closing of Fire Station 2, termination of fire protection and inspection efforts and all response times will be increased.”
John Nelson said the MFPD had done a "terrific job" in spending tax-payer dollars over the years and their service both locally and in support of other local departments in the region was critical to public safety. In 2006 voters approved Referendum 4A, which raised the mill levy by 3.45 mills to fund more firefighters and build fire district station number two. Nelson said since 2006 the MFPD has seen a 40-percent increase in the number of service calls.
"Right now we're faced with a real crisis, and they (MFPD) didn't cause it. Now if 7A doesn't pass on November 6th, we're going to have to regress back in the service realm. We're not asking you (city council) to give money, we're asking you to get the word out (about) how critical this is to our community," Nelson said. "The bottom line is if you pick up a phone and call for an ambulance and it takes longer to get there this year than it did last year, everybody in this room is going to be affected."
The resolution further states that “passage of Referendum 7A will permit the Montrose Fire Protection District to continue to provide excellent emergency services to District residents without a reduction in those services and the ability to meet the needs of an increasing population. The Montrose City Council supports the efforts of the Montrose Fire Protection District in providing a safe community for the residents of the City of Montrose.”
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