Summit Fire & EMS mill-levy increase ballot measure factual summary
The Board of Directors of Summit Fire & EMS will be asking voters for a mill-levy increase on the November general-election ballot. Attached is the factual summary of the request, and the text of that document reads:
NOVEMBER 2, 2021 ELECTION FOR PROPERTY TAX INCREASE
THE FIRE DISTRICT. The Summit Fire & EMS Fire Protection District, formerly known as the Lake Dillon Fire Protection District, provides 24-hour fire suppression, hazardous materials, rescue, extrication, wildfire suppression, ambulance transport, and emergency medical services to Copper Mountain, Silverthorne, Dillon, Keystone, Montezuma, Frisco, and unincorporated Summit County.
SUMMARY OF THE ISSUE. During the last 3 years, the Fire District and its community partners have worked to reduce the number of governmental entities in Summit County by consolidating multiple emergency services within the Fire District. Specifically, in 2018, the Fire District formed an operational authority with the Copper Mountain Consolidated Metropolitan District (CMCMD) fire department; in 2019, the Fire District assumed all ambulance transport and emergency medical services operations previously provided by Summit County Ambulance Service; and in 2020, the Fire District formally merged with the CMCMD fire department to become a unified provider of fire and emergency services. As part of the Fire District's agreement with the County to assume ambulance transport operations, the County has been remitting to the District tax revenues generated by the County's 2014 "Safety First" Ballot Issue 1A, as such tax revenues were approved by the voters specifically for the purpose of supporting ambulance services. However, voter authorization to collect the Safety First tax money will expire at the end of 2022 and the County will no longer remit those funds to the Fire District. This will cause an approximately $2,387,550 revenue shortfall for the Fire District in 2023. The Fire District also is experiencing additional revenue losses as the result of increased threat of wildfire, decreased medical billing reimbursement rates, decreased out-of-county transport revenue, and rising costs for apparatus and equipment. Accordingly, in order to provide for its current and future revenue needs, during its meeting on July 20, 2021, the Fire District's Board of Directors adopted a Resolution calling for an election on November 2, 2021 to seek authorization from its eligible electors to increase its property tax revenues by 4.0 mills.
ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE PROPOSAL. If successful, the proposal will increase the amount of property taxes the Fire District collects. For voters who support less and smaller government, the Fire District's increase in tax revenues may be contrary to this objective. The property tax revenues would fund a variety of Fire District priorities, including wildland firefighting; ambulance transport; emergency medical services; capital improvements and equipment replacement; and increased staffing, recruitment and retention, and personnel training. Voters who support only some of these priorities may be opposed to an increase in property tax revenues to fund all of them.
ARGUMENTS FOR THE PROPOSAL. Increasing the Fire District's property tax revenues will enable the Fire District to meet the community's increasing demands for emergency services. In order to continue the Fire District's emergency services and response times, the Fire District must have an adequate number of highly trained personnel, must use safe and well-maintained apparatus and equipment, and must be prepared for all manner of fire, ambulance, and emergency medical response. However, the revenue shortfall that will be caused by the loss of the Safety First tax revenues, at the same time that costs and service demands are increasing, will make it difficult for the Fire District to keep up with
increased population, emergency call volume, and inflation. If the Fire District has to reduce services in order to compensate for the lost revenue, the Fire District’s Insurance Services Office (ISO) ratings may be adversely affected, causing homeowners' and business owners' property insurance rates to increase.
THE BALLOT ISSUE. Summit Fire & EMS Fire Protection District Ballot Issue – Mill Levy Increase
SHALL SUMMIT FIRE & EMS FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT TAXES BE INCREASED 4,555,293 (FIRST FULL FISCAL YEAR DOLLAR INCREASE) ANNUALLY, BEGINNING IN LEVY YEAR 2021 (FOR COLLECTION IN CALENDAR YEAR 2022) BY INCREASING THE DISTRICT'S EXISTING PROPERTY TAX BY 4.000 MILLS TO A TOTAL OF 13.000 MILLS,
SUBJECT TO THE REVENUE STABILIZATION ADJUSTMENTS APPROVED BY THE DISTRICT'S VOTERS AT THE NOVEMBER 6, 2018 GENERAL ELECTION, TO BE USED FOR WILDLAND FIREFIGHTING, CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS, PERSONNEL, FIRE AND EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES, AMBULANCE TRANSPORT, AND ALL OTHER ADMINISTRATIVE AND OPERATIONAL EXPENSES, AND SHALL ALL REVENUE AND ANY EARNINGS ON THE TOTAL PROPERTY TAX CONSTITUTE A PERMANENT VOTER-APPROVED REVENUE CHANGE WITHIN THE MEANING OF ARTICLE X, SECTION 20 OF THE COLORADO CONSTITUTION AND AN EXCEPTION TO THE LIMITATIONS SET FORTH IN SECTION 29-1-301 OF THE COLORADO REVISED STATUTES, AND ANY OTHER LAW?