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Arvada Fire, Fairmount Fire Protection District urge voters to support proposed merger

The merger would combine resources and require a mill levy increase of 3.91%
Fairmount Fire Protection District
Posted at 9:18 PM, May 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-03 12:30:57-04

FAIRMOUNT, Colo. — Arvada Fire and the Fairmount Fire Protection District are urging voters to support a merger of the departments.

Amber Oeltjenbruns with Fairmount Fire said district operations have become more difficult over the past several years.

"Everything changed, right? We know that in the last several years, everything's gone up. That's no exception for our fire service. Our apparatus is more expensive, our supplies are more expensive," said Oeltjenbruns.

Normally, it takes 17 firefighters to respond to a scene, according to the district. At any given time, Fairmount has seven and often has to rely on neighboring fire departments for help.

"We're only able to give our community 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. ambulance services," Oeltjenbruns said.

That's where Arvada Fire comes in.

"Fairmount approached us explaining their challenges and the way that we can really combine our strengths," said Brady Johnson with Arvada Fire.

The two fire departments are proposing a merger. Voters will have the final say in three different ballot questions this November.

"One is to be included into Arvada. One is to dissolve Fairmount. And then the other would be to increase the mill levy," said Oeltjenbruns.

The third ballot question proposes a 3.91 mill levy increase to match Arvada Fire's mill levy. Fairmount said it would translate to an extra $2.34 per month per $100,000 of actual property value.

Through the mill levy, Fairmount would hire more staff and expand resources, including adding a 24/7 ambulance.

"We're going to be gaining skilled firefighters. We're going to be gaining apparatus," said Johnson. "Those types of resource sharing is a way that we improve services to both communities."

Both Fairmount and Arvada Fire are special districts, meaning they are not affiliated with any city government. Both would remain that way if the proposed merger is approved.

"We really looked at not just operations but every single department. How would this merger impact both districts? And there was no finding in any of those divisions where there was a services reduction for either side," said Johnson.

Fairmount said there will be tough decisions ahead if the merger fails.

"If the merger doesn't go through, we're going to have to go to our taxpayers and ask for probably a five mill levy increase because unfortunately, we just can't sustain where we are right now. Financially, it's just become too difficult," said Oeltjenbruns.

If a merger is approved, it will take effect on January 1, 2025.

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