NETCO goes for mill-levy increase

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If voters approve a mill-levy increase up to 3.94 mills for Northeast Teller County Fire Protection District, the additional revenue will fill in funding gaps partially due to a decrease in property-tax revenue.

If the measure passes, the district's annual budget would increase by $614,645.99; for homes valued at $200,000 the homeowner's property tax would go up by $5.26 a month.

For the fire district, the increase would be used for general operating expenses to:

●maintain current levels of firefighting and medical aid response

●maintain and replace aging firefighting equipment and engines, some of which are more than 30 years old.

● maintain historic levels of funding for operations and administration.

“We really need to have more personnel,” said the district's fire chief, Tyler Lambert. “The number of our volunteer firefighters is down to a historical low of four. ISO, Insurance Service Office, gives us credit for every three volunteers, which equal one career firefighter on the job.”

To fill in the funding gap for staffing, NETCO initiated a program two years ago to hire part-time firefighters, from Cripple Creek, Fort Carson, Colorado Springs and Denver. “By having a part-time firefighter program, we have four firefighters on duty each day to serve our constituents.”

In the past four years, the district has lost nearly $132,000, a 7.6 percent decrease in revenue. If the measure passes, the increase is expected to add $614,646 to the annual revenue. Fiscal-year spending for the district is estimated at $1,607,537

Ninety percent of the district's funding comes from property taxes, 3 percent from revenue earned through fighting wildland fires on a national level and 7 percent comes from specific ownership tax, including license plates and registration fees. “We get zero income from city sales tax,” Lambert said.

The NETCO tax measure is the only local issue on the ballot and no comments were filed by the constitutional deadline.

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