Voters approve fire district tax hikes
EAGLE COUNTY ” Voters in the middle and western parts of the valley Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a pair of tax hikes for their fire districts.
The Avon-based Eagle River Fire Protection District wanted its tax hike to hire as many as eight new firefighters, renovate its fire stations and buy new equipment, some of which is nearly 25 years old.
The Eagle-based Greater Eagle Fire Protection District’s tax hike will be dedicated to new buildings.
District officials want to build, equip and staff new stations up Brush Creek, at Wolcott, and will share a station with the Gypsum Fire District near the Eagle County Airport.
The Eagle-based district sold its tax increase based on growth. Hundreds of new homes are either built now or will be built in the Brush Creek Valley in the next several years.
And, while the commercial area just east of the county airport is in Gypsum’s town boundaries, it’s in the Eagle-based fire district.
District officials also argued that new homes and buildings in the Wolcott area could be better protected by a station there, instead of from the main station in Eagle.
One of the district’s board members was gratified by the vote.
“We felt like we were doing the right thing,” board member Roxie Deane said. “It’s satisfying when people go out and vote for something you’ve supported. It looks like people understood what we’re trying to do.”
Eagle River Fire Protection District Board Member Ed O’Brien was also feeling good about the vote totals in the mid-valley.
“It’s satisfying,” O’Brien said. “But more than that, it’s appropriate. Voters understood the issue, and the understood the justification.”
In an interview last week, board member Michael Gallagher said the district’s tax rates were set too low when the district was created in 2000. O’Brien agreed.
“We’ve made due for a long time,” O’Brien said. “It’s been a challenge.”
The new tax is about a 50 percent boost in the existing tax rate. That, O’Brien said, will give the district some needed breathing room in the budget.
“This isn’t going to make us rich,” O’Brien said. “But it creates a better opportunity to provide better service to the district.”
Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14624, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vail Daily, Vail Colorado
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