Potential 2019 Ballot Issue Update

The following information is to help residents make an informed decision on the potential ballot measure in November 2019. Your Board of Directors encourage you to provide input on these important issues. A final decision on placing measures on the ballot in November 2019 will be made this August. Please contact Fire Chief Jeremy A. Young or Community Outreach Specialist Summer Campos for further questions or concerns. Email: jyoung@fffd.us or scampos@fffd.us. Thank you!

Community Forums

Come and join us at one of the following community forums to learn about the District’s needs as the Board of Directors consider a potential ballot proposal for funding.

Tuesday, July 16th, 6-8 p.m. at the Carbon Valley Library, 7 Park Ave., Firestone

Wednesday, July 24, 6-8 p.m. at Fire Station 1, 31 Walnut Drive, Frederick

Community Survey & Potential 2019 Ballot Issue Update

Earlier this year, the Frederick-Firestone Fire District asked for residents feedback on its services provided. Here are the results from that survey.

2019 Community Survey Results

Potential 2019 Ballot Issue Update

Supporting Documents

The Gallagher Amendment & Fire Protection District In Colorado

The following video helps explain how the Gallagher Amendment is negatively effecting Fire Districts in Colorado.

Gallagher Amendment and Fire Districts in Colorado Video

FAQ

The growth that Frederick and Firestone are experiencing should pay for any current and future needs of the Fire Protection District. Growth does help and every other year when the County reassess property we do see an increase in our revenues from property taxes. However, these increases are not enough to bridge the current funding gap the Fire District has to meet future needs. Without additional funding, the district may have to consolidate fire stations creating longer response times. The average home pays around $290.00 a year in taxes for fire and emergency medical services. If we gain 200 homes in one year, that is only an increase of $58,000 in revenue for the Fire District, if the Gallagher Amendment does not ratchet the Residential Assessment Rate down, as we have seen for the last 20 years.

In 2006, the Fire District absorbed the Tri-Area ambulance service district, providing all the citizens with large tax break and a consolidated service. The mill levy approved in 2006 no longer supports the needs and growth of your fire and emergency services. Our population and service demands have increased by 600% since 2006 and our budget has only increased by 300%.  Without your support, we will not be able to hire the proper amount of firefighters and paramedics to staff fire stations effectively. Fire stations staffing may have to be suspended and personnel consolidated for their safety, your safety and to create a more efficient service model. However, this comes with a price of longer response times and a potential increase in property insurance cost if the District’s ISO rating was to increase. When lives and property are in jeopardy, seconds matter. We personally want help arriving as soon as possible. Our standard is to be on scene of all emergencies within 5.5 minutes over 80% of the time. We do not want to increase this standard.  

 

How come the Towns of Frederick and Firestone do not supplement the Fire District with funding? Your Fire District is a completely separate organization from both Towns. Even though we have Intergovernmental Agreements with both Towns to provide fire and emergency medical services, we do not receive any funding or revenue from the Towns, Weld County, or the State of Colorado. As a Title 32 Special District in the State of Colorado, we are not allowed to impose a sales tax or a developer impact fee for new development as a Town or City. Special Districts are only allowed to receive their main funding through property taxes. This is another reason why many special districts have higher mill levy rates than our Towns or County, it is our only funding mechanism. Both towns are separate governing agencies from the Fire District. The Fire District is governed by its own citizen elected board of directors and is its own taxing entity. Even though we all work together to serve the community. The governing bodies and funding mechanisms are completely different.

 

Last November’s Ballot Question was complicated and we did not understand exactly what was being asked and what was needed?  We apologize for this. Colorado Law requires us to follow certain election laws such as TABOR and other legislation on what language a ballot question must have in order to protect the citizens, which makes it hard to develop a ballot question in an easily understandable way. We failed you here last year and if the Board choses to move forward with a ballot question this year, we will do everything in our power, following Colorado law to make sure the ballot question is easier to understand and 100% transparent about our needs and how funds will be utilized.

 

Why do you need to replace fire engines and build new fire stations? Everything you currently have looks good and in working order. We take great pride in the equipment our citizens have provided us. We remind our firefighters daily: the fire engines, ambulances and fire stations belong to the community and they have blessed us with this equipment to save their lives and property when that times comes. Your apparatus fleet is aging, many of our fire engines, ladder trucks, rescues are approaching the 15- and 20-year service marks. Some of our aging fleet is in the maintenance shop just as long as it is in service at a fire station protecting you. This is what worries us. We have a capital replacement plan in place and have for many years, but once again the funding gap presents a problem when trying to balance the hiring of firefighters and paramedics with replacing aging fire engines and ambulances. Capital purchases are normally a one time purchase over many years. Personnel such as firefighters and paramedics are a funding mechanism that can not fluctuate or go away. Meanwhile, we are trying to save money to build future fire stations which will require hiring more firefighters and paramedics. The gap in funding just does not allow us to get caught up as our district grows in land area and population. To maintain the 5 – 6-minute emergency response times to your emergencies and to keep all residents of the District within approximately 5 miles of your fire station, additional fire stations will be needed in the Wyndam Hill area (Hwy 52 and I-25) and the Barefoot Lakes (Hwy 66 and WCR 13) area within the next 10 years. In addition to the cost of constructing a fire station, we must also budget for new fire engines, ladder trucks and ambulances, as well as hiring new firefighters and paramedics for each new station. This also keeps your property insurance at an all-time low. Without bridging this funding gap, property insurance rates may increase in the future. 

 

We need to know how the current money is being spent and why do you feel you need more money now?

Our Board of Directors meet the second Monday of each month at 7:00 pm here at our Administration Office at 8426 Kosmerl Place in Frederick. Every citizen is welcome to attend any meeting and we also provide time at each meeting for public comment. We post our proposed annual budget for public comment each October in local newspapers and hold two (2) public meetings for the public to provide their comments on our budget. Our annual third-party audits are posted on our website and each December our Budget Message explaining the current situations and projects being accomplished for the upcoming year are published. We also submit our Budget to the State of Colorado, Weld County and to the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) to post on their websites. We also have a third-part professional Governmental Accounting Standards Board audit completed each Spring and it also available on our website and sent to the State governments as required by the State of Colorado for all Title 32 Special Districts by July 31 of each year. We encourage you to attend a meeting or visit our website at www.fffd.us to find any of these supporting documents. We truly believe in 100% transparency as we are utilizing your money to provide the best service possible. It is our honor and responsibility to remain fiscally sound and frugal with the funding we are blessed with.

 

Why are there more calls for emergency services?  This is caused by population growth, increase traffic in and through our community and in fact, in the past five years, our emergency calls for service has increased by 50%. In 2018, your fire and emergency medical services touched over 19,000 lives through emergency calls, non-emergency calls, educational events and everyday service needs reducing our communities’ overall risk.

 

Why would you lose firefighters and paramedics as stated in the survey? As the entire Front Range continues to grow, fire and emergency medical service providers continue to aggressively recruit firefighters and paramedics, meaning that many leave our fire district for better paying jobs elsewhere in the state or along the Front Range. This has been an ongoing situation for many years. Many of our firefighters and paramedics can go work in neighboring fire departments and make anywhere from $8,000 – $12,000 more a year. The District is currently understaffed by 12 firefighter/paramedics. Every year we lose valuable employees to other agencies up and down the Front Range and Denver metro area. This loss causes a circle of hiring and training that could be reduced or even eliminated by bridging this funding gap.

See what National Standards recommend for emergencies below:

One (1) House or Business Fire = to 4,000 sq. feet

One (1) Traffic Accident

 

 Your Fire District only has 14 Firefighters/Paramedics on duty per day. This number of 14 is only when no individual is on vacation, sick leave, bereavement or on injury leave. Most days we are operating with 12 firefighters. This is why we have to increase your staffing in order to provide your firefighters safe and efficient working conditions during an emergency, which in turn makes your emergency safer, more efficient and mitigated much quicker, saving lives and property.

 

Why don’t you merge or consolidate with neighboring agencies? Many fire and emergency medical service departments have intergovernmental agreements with the Towns or City they provide service for. When citizens talk about merging or consolidation, it is never as easy as it seems. It requires getting multiple elected officials from multiple Towns, Cities, and Districts together and then they all have to agree on a service direction and controlling agency. Many times, a consolidation or merger is required when an entity can no longer sustain itself, so they look for help. Often, this increases the taxes for citizens instead of reducing them. Some of our neighboring fire departments have much higher tax rates then we currently do. Merging always sounds better, however, it can also decrease the current service level a community already receives when resources are spread out. We as a Fire District work very well with our neighbors and have mutual aid and automatic aid agreements where we assist each other in times of need.  We are all experiencing high population growth which is increasing everyone’s service demands. There have been many times when our neighbors have requested us, and we are busy and cannot assist as needed and many other times we have requested help, and our neighbors are busy and they are unable to assist. And when we can assist or they can assist, many times those response times for proper resources can be greater than 10 minutes to an emergency.