FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
17 July 2012
Contact: Steve Lipsher, Public Information Officer
Office: (970) 262-5209
Lake Dillon Fire District Board to ask voters for property-tax increase
The Lake Dillon Fire Protection District will ask voters to approve a property-tax increase of 0.741 mills on the November ballot to maintain current fire and emergency service and restore the district’s diminished funding to 2009 levels, marking the first tax-increase request in 11 years.
Approved unanimously by the five-member Lake Dillon Fire Protection District Board of Directors at Tuesday’s regular monthly meeting, the tax-increase question will appear on the Nov. 6 special-district ballot available to all registered voters and property owners within the fire district eligible to vote in Colorado.
If approved, the measure would raise taxes an estimated $5.90 for every $100,000 of property value and generate approximately $553,323 annually for the fire department – partially restoring property-tax funding to levels before Summit County’s assessed values fell after the real-estate downturn.
In 2009, property owners in the district paid $66 for every $100,000, and a home valued at $300,000 paid $198 annually in LDFPD taxes. With an average 17 percent reduction in assessed valuation in 2012, that $300,000 home would have been valued at $249,000, and the amount of taxes due to the fire district dropped to $164. Like a majority of fire districts in Colorado, the Lake Dillon Fire Protection District relies on property taxes for approximately 90 percent of its annual budget.
“While the demands for our services – including fire prevention and structural and wildland suppression, medical treatment and all-hazards emergency response – has continued to grow in the past several years, our funding for the budget actually has decreased by $1.2 million in 2012,” said LDFPD Board President Jerry Peterson. “We are asking the voters in our district to continue supporting well-equipped, well-trained firefighters, fire prevention staff and the necessary overhead support staff to effectively lead and manage the district.”
Peterson noted that due to reduced property-tax assessments, the department overall revenues reflected a 16.3 percent decrease — $1,266,832 — off the budget in 2012, and will likely be forced to cut another 5 to 6 percent out of the budget beginning in 2014 unless voters approve the tax-increase measure.
“We’ve always budgeted conservatively and operated to realize the best value, so the continuing reduction in revenues will begin to impact our abilities to serve the community within the next two years,” he said. “By asking for this modest increase in property taxes, we can maintain the responsive, capable and well-prepared fire department that our residents and visitors have come to expect.”
If approved, the mill-levy increase also would bring Lake Dillon Fire up to the same rate of 9 mills now paid by property owners in Breckenridge’s Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District. The disparity would eventually need to be equalized as the two departments merge as new fire-protection entity.
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