Vail Daily letter: ‘Yes’ on 4A | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily letter: ‘Yes’ on 4A

My name is Scott Pottratz and I have served our local community since 1999 as a firefighter with the Town of Red Cliff and Eagle River Fire Protection District. If you are a registered voter in Gypsum, you will be voting on ballot question 4A. Gypsum Fire Protection District’s service area is very large, extending from the Twin Tunnels in Glenwood Canyon to the Town of Eagle, and includes the communities of Dotsero, Sweetwater and up Colorado River Road to Burns.

There is a great danger that 4A could be defeated simply because people do not understand the facts. In conversations with community members over the years, I have often encountered some misunderstandings about the fire service as a whole.

Here are some important facts:

First, GFPD does not bill for their services. With a busy year like 2013, many calls for service from motor vehicle accidents, structure fires, medical emergencies, and wildland fires do not add dollars to the funds they need to run GFPD. On the contrary, the costs of these incidents must be met from funds they collect and hold in reserve. This year’s incidents have included structure fires, motor vehicle accidents all of which required GFPD’s response, including many off-duty firefighters, as well as multiple agencies throughout Eagle County and neighboring counties. The department incurs a large expense for response to these types of incidents.

Finally, those reserves are running low. GFPD has slashed its budget dramatically to maintain a high level of emergency response. Despite all reasonable efforts to eliminate unnecessary costs.

GFPD receives over 90 percent of its revenues from property tax, as property owners we have seen an unprecedented drop in property values here recently. This has also demonstrated that this funding mechanism is imperfect. The reduction in property values has not resulted in a reduction in calls for service or the severity of those calls, as I mentioned above.

As a homeowner in the town of Gypsum, I share a common and important expectation with you: That the fire department arrives quickly and with sufficient resources to mitigate the emergencies in our community.

No matter what the emergency is, whether it is a water line break, the chirping smoke detector that is too high for you to reach or your car is leaking gas in the driveway, you always know who to call. Let’s not forget the birthday party that the fire truck was at, or the day you walked to the park and the firefighter in front of the station invited you and your children in to look at the trucks.

No matter what you need, firefighters will do everything in their power to help you!

I ask you to please make this vision a reality with your “yes” vote on 4A.

Scott Pottratz

Gypsum