GYPSUM — The Gypsum Fire Protection District’s Ballot Issue 4A, a request for a six-year 3.5 mill levy increase, failed by 96 votes, with 766 votes in favor and 862 against.
This is the second time voters turned down a proposed mill levy by the fire district in two years. The district asked voters to approve a 2 mill levy increase last year and was turned down.
Gypsum Fire Chief Dave Vroman said the proposed mill levy translates as a shortfall of about $300,000 per year.
“We’ll be working on some of those budget cuts tomorrow,” he said Tuesday night after the results came in. “We’ll be talking about doing ‘brown-outs,’ which means there won’t be people at the fire station 24 hours a day every day.”
Vroman said the mill levy was an effort to make up for the recent drop in property values that reduced Gypsum Fire Protection District’s budget by 23 percent.
“We have lost more than 50 percent of our revenues over the past three years,” Vroman said.
During the campaign, Vroman said the average assessed property value for the district in 2010 was $392,157, which amounted to $213.32 in annual fire district property taxes at the current mill levy of 6.833, which remains one of the lowest in the region. Currently, the average assessed value is $200,000, which amounts to $108.75 in annual taxes paid. If the mill levy increase was approved, then that would have translated as $164.46 in annual taxes for a $200,000 property.
Fire districts in Garfield County also requested mill levies because of reduced property values.
As of press time, Glenwood Springs Rural Fire Protection District Ballot Issue 5A was passing and Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District Ballot Issue 4B was failing.
Two years ago, voters approved a temporary mill levy increase for the Carbondale Fire District that the district asked to extend this year. Critics cited concerns about the open-ended nature of this year’s proposed increase.
Vroman said Gypsum Fire sought a six-year increase to avoid that type of situation if it had passed.
“This was just to hold the line and maintain our current service levels,” he said. “These cuts are going to be tough.”
“This is a regional problem,” Glenwood Springs Fire Chief Gary Tillotson told the Glenwood Springs Post Independent earlier this fall.