Editor's Note: 'Our Colorado' stories help natives and newcomers navigate the challenges related to our rapidly growing state, including real estate and development, homelessness, transportation and more. To comment on this or other 360 stories, email us at OurCO@TheDenverChannel.com. See more 'Our Colorado' stories here.
COMMERCE CITY, Colo – As Colorado's population increases, so does demand in resources. A few fire departments in Colorado are in need of more funding because of population increases.
“Absolutely, we always have to keep up with the growth and the response times,” said South Adams County Fire Protection District Chief Kevin Vincel.
According to a letter released by SACFPD and the SACFPD Board, as a result of the residential assessment rate change, SACFPD lost $300,000 from its 2018 operating budget. The letter goes on to state in 2020, that loss is expected to increases to $530,000.
“The rates go down, and then with the property tax you don’t get as much as you would with a lower percentage rate, so you have to adjust your budget,” Vincel said.
According to the SACFPD, the Gallagher Amendment to the Colorado Constitution requires the percentage of property taxes paid by residential property owners in the state to be 45 percent of the total taxes paid. That rate has been reduced from 7.96 percent to 7.2 percent.
According to Vincel, SACFPD serves 55,000 people and employs 55 people among four different stations.
He says the SACFPD and the board are contemplating applying a mill levy to its tax payers.
A mill levy is the "tax rate" that is applied to the assessed value of a property. One mill is one dollar per $1,000 dollars of assessed value. It consists of a local portion which is used to fund area services.
According to Vincel, SACFPD did that in 2013 to reduce response times and hire necessary staff.
“It’s all about providing the citizens with the best customer service that we can provide,” Vincel said. “That’s why it’s important for us to get that funding to maintain that level of service.”
The SACFPD Board will make a final decision in August whether to place this on the ballot to vote on this November.