Letter: Yes on Issue A
If you were building something, where would you start?
I was born in 1982 with a builder for a father. He shared many life lessons, but perhaps most important was starting with a strong foundation. This is true of building homes, but also as a metaphor in life.
For a house, this means preparing a suitable site and pouring a concrete base. Then additional tasks can occur, such as framing, utilities, etc. until the house is habitable.
What if the foundation cracks?
This is what’s facing Eagle River Fire Protection District and other special districts across Colorado. The Gallagher Amendment, like me, was born in 1982. It seemed like a good idea then: create a ratio between residential and commercial property taxes to limit property taxes, protecting homeowners from exorbitant increases.
As a local homeowner, I appreciate the sentiment. As someone who has used the services of ERFPD, I am concerned. I hope that since 1982, I have gained some wisdom and intelligence.
I fear Gallagher has not fared as well — its foundation works in large, metropolitan areas where the number of new homes contributes meaningfully to the property taxes that fund fire districts and other fundamental services. In rural areas, like our community, the number and value of residential properties cannot ensure stable funding for ERFPD and other special districts.
ERFPD’s funding comes largely from property taxes — and these numbers are declining because of Gallagher. In 1982, 21% of a residential property’s market value was taxed for these essential services. That figure is now 7.15% and will continue its freefall without your yes vote on Issue A. Without sufficient funding, ERFPD will have no choice but to further slash its budget. Three firefighter positions were already eliminated because of this funding crisis.
Our community cannot afford to reduce or lose ERFPD’s critical services while call volumes and population continue to increase. These emergency calls include wildfires, COVID-19 victims, car accidents, and gas leaks. Seconds count and small incidents can turn into large-scale disasters if not handled expediently.
I’m voting YES on Issue A for me, my family, and my community, and I urge you to do the same. A community is only as strong as its foundation. Without a fully staffed and fully funded fire department, we are in danger when emergency services have never been more critical.
Vote yes on Issue A on your separate ERFPD ballot.
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