Troubling implication

I am writing on behalf of the board of directors of the Eagle River Fire Protection District. This letter responds solely to the implication that the Firefighters Union, through its endorsement, would gain influence over any board member. It does not express support for any individual candidate. The electorate makes that decision.

A recent letter to the editor, written on behalf of one of the candidates running for a seat on the board in our May election, stated that a letter of support from the Fire Fighters Union on behalf of another candidate will make that candidate obligated to the union and, therefore, less independent. The board is deeply troubled by that implication. We recognize that it is not widely known that the firefighters of Eagle River are unionized. Joining their International is a long held tradition within the firefighting service and one, which we, the board respect. However, as it relates to Eagle River Fire, the local union has not been recognized by the board. The board has never entered into a collective bargaining relationship with any of the employees of our district.

Our firefighters have earned the trust and professional regard of the board and it is our hope that is it a mutual relationship. We solicit input from and listen carefully to our employees, but every individual on the five person board of directors is extremely conscious that our sole obligation is to our electorate. The majority of the board either have or continue to sit on other special district boards so knowledge of special district law is widespread and deep. Every meeting is attended by outside legal counsel to ensure that the spirit and the language of the law is followed at all times by both the board collectively and its individual members. Behavior by any individual board member that has the hint of any influence, other than that of the general public, would be called out and repudiated.

The Eagle River Board is cognizant of the responsibility placed upon us by the electorate when our ballot initiative, which allowed us to temporarily increase the mill levy, was passed in 2012. As part of our efforts to justify that trust, the district provides its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report to the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada. Eagle River has been awarded an excellent rating, which means that the financial report achieves the highest standard in government accounting and financial reporting. Eagle River Fire is one of two special districts on the Western Slope to be so recognized.

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Board meetings of the district are held in open session on the third Thursday of every month starting at 9 a.m. at the Edwards Field house. Our budget process begins in August of each year and typically concludes in December, as required by statute. The board welcomes attendance and input by any member of the public at any time.

Jennifer Cartmell Hays

Chair, Eagle River Fire Protection board of directors

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