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Durango Fire Chief Hal Doughty answers 5 questions about the property tax increase measure

Why do voters inside the city limits and county residents inside the fire district see two different questions?

The city of Durango is not part of the fire district. They are protected by the fire district under contract, so there must be two separate questions. State law requires that the district ask one question of their voters, and that the city ask another. The actual ballot questions must be approved and certified under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights rules to assure compliance with state law, which has been done.

Do both of the questions have to pass in order for the tax to go into effect, and if so why is that the case?

The question must pass in the city and in the fire district in order to go into effect. While there are some differences in the way that the fire district receives funding from city and county taxpayers, the service that the district provides, and the manner in which we respond, is kept as equal as possible, without regard for which calls may be in the city limits or in the county. The fire district board believes that it would be unfair to collect an unequal amount of tax from either funding partner. Based on that philosophy, the fire district will not enact the tax increase unless both funding partners approve the change.

What will the money be spent on? Can you provide a percentage breakdown of where the money will go?

The mill rate increase will be used to accomplish three specific programs. First, the district will use the money to fully fund our current operational costs. For the last few years, the district used funds designated for capital projects to fund operations because demands on our agency have grown significantly with increased call volume. Simply, our operations today cost more than our total revenue stream, which is unsustainable for the district. Second, the new revenues will be used to add to the district’s current daily response staffing levels. This will put more staffed units available each day, to improve response times within the city and the fire district. Third, the fire district currently has no revenue stream to fund capital replacements and upgrades of our aging fleet and inventory of fire stations. This revenue will fund our basic capital needs.

If the tax increase is approved, how much more will residents and businesses pay in taxes?

Residential property owners would see an increase of $18 per $100,000 worth of value in their home per year. If a person owns a house worth $400,000, they would pay an additional $72 per year. Commercial property owners would see an increase of $72.50 per $100,000 of value per year. If a person owns commercial property worth $500,000, they would pay an additional $362.50 per year. Response times are one of the main determining factors in maintaining and improving our ISO (Insurance Service Office) rating, which directly impacts insurance costs in our community.

What are the sources of funding for the district?

Our three major sources of funding for the district:

1. Tax base from the district.

2. City of Durango contract for service.

3. Ambulance revenue.

In 2017, the district’s total revenue stream was projected to be $11,058,803. The current district tax base (5.7 mills) accounts for $3,618,838 (32.7 percent of total). Our contract with the city (based on 5.7 mills multiplied by the city’s total assessed value) accounts for $3,267,282 (29.5 percent of total).

Ambulance billing accounts for $3,305,000 (29.9 percent of total). The remaining 7.9 percent of our total revenue ($873,645) is from miscellaneous revenue, which includes grants, impact fees, prevention fees, wildland fire income and a capital contribution from the city to cover the cost of stations and equipment for the city service area.

For more information, visit http://durangofire.org/understand-durango-fire.htm.

Hal Doughty, Durango Fire Protection District

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