Kremmling Fire seeks ballot measure input

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Equipment staging at the site of a structure fire. Seen is KFPD’s Engine 421, a Type 1 engine & the district's primary structure fire response apparatus.
Equipment staging at the site of a structure fire. Seen is KFPD’s Engine 421, a Type 1 engine & the district's primary structure fire response apparatus.

by Marissa Lorenz

The Kremmling Fire Protection District (KFPD) is seeking input from residents about “de-Gallagherizing” the district with a ballot measure this fall that would help to maintain revenues for the coming years. The measure would ask voters to allow the Kremmling FPD to stabilize their tax revenue at the level collected in 2020 with a mill levy that varied depending on property assessment rates.

If passed, the measure would help the Kremmling Fire District continue to provide the current level of services to the town and surrounding areas without risking decreased protections and increased insurance rates and without raising taxes.

Fire protection districts across Colorado are primarily funded by property tax revenues, monies that are regulated by a 1982 constitutional amendment, called the Gallagher Amendment, which helps to determine the assessment rate for all properties and the ratio of taxes collected on residential and non- residential properties. The Gallagher Amendment states that residential taxes cannot account for more than 45 percent of property tax collected. But as the state’s economy has boomed and residential properties
have increased in value, the residential assessment rate has continued to fall.

When Gallagher was passed in 1982, the assessment rate for Colorado’s residential properties was 21 percent. By 1995, it was 10.36 percent and, in 2019, it had fallen to 7.15 percent. In places such as Grand County, which is mostly residential, it means taxing districts are being strongly impacted by the residential assessment rate drops. For the KFPD, whose tax base is 75 percent residential and which hasn’t raised its mill levy since 2001, the dropping assessment rate has forced changes to district spending. Specifically, KFPD has drawn down reserve funds to meet the needs of increased call volume, population growth, and inflated operating costs.

As the assessment rate continues to drop, operational costs keep going up. The population they serve continues to grow, not only in the town of Kremmling but as far as Spring Creek, Corral Creek, and Rabbit Ears Pass. Board member Don Eggers notes that a new Type 1 fire truck starts at $500,000. The necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to fight structural fires costs $10,600 per firefighter, additional wildland equipment costs $1,300 per person, and communication equipment costs over $6,000 per person. Extrication equipment for accident response costs tens of thousands of dollars. And most PPE must be replaced every 10 years.

Thus, the Fire District Board is exploring an option already proven successful in many other Colorado fire protection districts, like the East Grand Fire Protection District, which passed a “stabilization measure”
in 2019 with a 65 percent voter support rate. The ballot measures allow local citizens to decide what to do with their tax monies without the Gallagher restraints.

The proposed Kremmling measure would request voter permission to vary the mill levy, which is currently at around 9.543, to ensure the same revenue levels as were collected in 2020. This revenue level would help to maintain the current level of quality and response, provide necessary protective gear and equipment, maintain the same levels of rigorous volunteer training, expand services to keep up with population growth, and maintain revenues which would otherwise be lost due to the Gallagher Amendment in order to save for major expenditures. KFPD Board members would like to hear from area voters about their support for such an initiative on the 2020 general ballot in November. They can be contacted individually by phone or by email.

● Don Eggers- 970-409-9790(c), [email protected]
● Alan Hassler- 970-640- 1374(c), 970-724-1171, alan. [email protected]
● Jim Sloan- 970-406-1789(c), 970-724-9251(h), [email protected]
● Scott Spade- 970-393-7662(c), 970-724 8991(h), [email protected] kremmlingfire.org
● James White- 518-490- 5187(c), 970-724-8945(h), james. [email protected]

More information about the Kremmling Fire Protection District and the impacts of the Gallagher Amendment on the KFPD and the community it serves can b found at KremmlingFire.org.