Montrose, CO – City Councilors Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution publicly voicing their support of the Montrose Fire Protection District (MFPD) Ballot Issue 7A this November.
"Passage of Ballot Issue 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 resolution reads. "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."
Earlier this month, local residents John Nelson and Jim Haugsness, who helped craft the resolution, urged councilors to support 7A, citing public safety and the need to prevent the closure of a local fire station as the MFPD seeks additional mill levy revenues to offset shrinking operating budgets.
The 7A measure, which heads for voter approval November 6, would increase the mill levy for the MFPD 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.
The Montrose Fire Protection District service area encompasses 186 square miles in Montrose and Ouray Counties and emergency medical services to over 1,000 square miles in Montrose, Ouray and Gunnison Counties.
The resolution further states "the Montrose Fire Protection District provides valuable services to the community, including fire suppression, emergency medical services, technical rescue, hazardous materials response, fire protection inspections, and public safety."
In 2006 voters approved ballot issue 4A, which raised the mill levy by 3.45 mills. Councilors agreed that since then, the MFPD "has proven to be a trustworthy caretaker of tax dollars," fulfilling promises and "constructing, equipping and staffing two additional fire stations, weathering a severe recession without reducing services or seeking a tax increase, decreasing response time significantly and timely responding to a 40-percent increase in emergency calls for service since 2006."
Tuesday’s resolution states "due to the unavoidable consequences of the 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."
Montrose Mayor Roy Anderson said the passage of 7A is a significant public safety issue, adding that residents who call for an ambulance shouldn't have to wait for emergency services to arrive due to a lack of funding.
Anderson signed the resolution following Tuesday's meeting which states, "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."
Mayor Pro-Tem Dave Bowman said the responsibility lies with state legislators and their ability to balance tax policy – which is passed by lawmakers in Denver – and how it impacts smaller, rural taxing districts.
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