The Gypsum Fire Protection District is asking voters to approve a temporary 3.5 mill levy increase in the November election.
The question will go to voters through Eagle County’s mail-in ballot.
The district’s current mill levy is 6.833. If approved, the temporary increase of 3.5 mills would expire after six years. In tax dollars, that would increase the monthly property tax on a $250,000 home by $7.30. Under state law, commercial property owners would pay almost three times as much.
“This is to make up for the drop in property values – we lost 23 percent from this year’s budget,” GFPD Chief Dave Vroman told Gypsum Town Council last week. “We’re asking for this increase so that we don’t have to cut service levels.”
GFPD asked voters to approve a 2 mill levy increase last year and was turned down.
Council member Beric Christiansen expressed concern about the proposed increase.
“An increase of 3.5 mills would take us to a total of 10.333 mills,” he said. “We’re going from the lowest rate to one of the highest.”
According to a list Vroman provided that compared eight neighboring communities’ mill levies and populations, Greater Eagle Fire Protection District is the only one at 10 mills, with a district population of about 6,750. The average mill levy of all eight districts is 8.695 and the average population is 8,900.
Gypsum Fire Protection District’s population is currently about 6,600. That might seem like a high price for a small population but GFPD covers 450 square miles between Eagle and Garfield counties, so it is one of the larger districts in terms of the amount of land it covers.
“We have no intentions of expanding much more than what we have now,” Vroman said. “We’re just trying to keep service levels where they are at.”
Vroman said that the average assessed property value in 2010 was $392,157, which amounted to $213.32 in annual fire district property taxes at the current mill levy of 6.833. Now the average assessed value is $200,000, which amounts to $108.75 in annual taxes paid. If the mill levy increase is approved, that will translate as $164.46 in annual taxes for that property.
“We have lost more than 50 percent of our revenues over the past three years. If you look at 2010, this is really not an increase,” Vroman said. “This is just to hold the line.”
“Design of the interchange is an expensive project, and we wouldn’t undertake it unless we were comfortable the project leasing is moving in a positive direction.”