Animas district taxpayers being shortchanged

In response to Tom and Sheryl Kaufman’s letter (Herald, May 1), I first would like to acknowledge that Tom has had an exemplary career as firefighter, code inspector and especially as an arson investigator. He is known statewide and has certainly earned his standing among the many investigators throughout Colorado.

Unfortunately, some of his statements are slightly inaccurate. The letter says, “In 2006, voters overwhelmingly approved the creation of the Durango Fire & Rescue Authority.”First off, the authority was never approved by a vote of the people even though we would have probably been better served if it had been. Also, it was not 2006 but, in fact, Jan. 1, 2002, that it came into being. It was conceived primarily by the chairmen of Animas Fire Protection District and Hermosa Cliff Fire Protection District, the Durango City Council and the chiefs of the three entities.

Likewise, it was stated correctly that there are three fully staffed stations per the original authority agreement. Two are within the city and one is on U.S. Highway 550 near Electra Lake. None of Animas’ remaining 10 stations are currently manned. The five “new” stations, built with proceeds of the 1995 bond issue adopted by the Animas voters, all have living quarters for paid firefighters or medics. A couple of these have unpaid volunteers living in them, but they rarely are dispatched and are only present during certain hours. After all, they have to support their own families.

Finally, the Kaufmans believe that the “gang of four,” as they so eloquently call us, has only one primary purpose: “to break up DFRA.” Actually, our goal is to get the fire protection and emergency medical service that Animas taxpayers have been paying for.

As the letter stated, Animas needs the “fastest response times” and its residents “deserve the best (fire and emergency) protection.” These two critical ingredients are not currently being provided. The end result: The Animas taxpayers are being shortchanged.

Bud Deering

Durango