Grand voters approve fire protection district measures
Voters approved revenue measures for both the East Grand Fire Protection District and the Grand Lake Fire Protection District with Tuesday’s election.
The East Grand measure passed with 1,143 votes in favor (65.2%) and 610 votes against (34.8%). The Grand Lake measure passed with 520 votes in favor (59.39%) and 356 votes against (40.64%).
The measures were slightly different in intention, but both were reactions to the decreased revenue districts are facing because of the Gallagher Amendment.
The Grand Lake proposal asked to raise taxes by $380,000 by adding a mill levy rate no greater than 3 mills and continuing to raise additional amounts annually not to exceed 11.63 mills.
The increase doubles the budget for the district, which Grand Lake Fire Chief Kevin Ratzmann said essentially doubles the district’s capabilities.
“We’re beyond thankful for the support of our community,” Ratzmann said. “We’ll strive hard to provide the service that they deserve.”
Grand Lake has multiple projects that this funding will go toward, including creating an emergency medical response program with ambulance service for Grand Lake, hiring additional personal to increase capabilities, replacing aging equipment and potentially opening a third location for the district.
The measure passed with almost 60% of voters in favor, a majority that Ratzmann said reflects the necessity of the funds.
“I’m very happy about the support level because people see the need in our community,” he said. “For people who voted against it, we will just work that much harder to deserve that support.”
Unlike the Grand Lake measure, the East Grand initiative will not raise taxes this year.
Instead, it will work as a stabilization measure to adjust mill levies based on property assessment rates starting in 2021. This means taxes could be raised or lowered depending on the state-determined assessment rates of properties.
“We’re very appreciative of all the folks in the district that supported us, and the ones that didn’t, well, hopefully we can take good care of them as well,” East Grand Fire Chief Todd Holzwarth said.
Holzwarth said this measure will allow the fire district to maintain the funds needed to function properly. For the past 10 years, the district has had to dip into reserves to continue capital projects, which is unsustainable.
The district is also looking into building a south station, a goal that has been in the district’s master plan for a while. Because funding continued to decrease, the project remained on hold even though land for the project was available. With the revenues stabilized, the fire district can realistically look into a new station.
Any future tax increases with this measure will be incremental, and the fire district will have to go back to voters for any significant changes.
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