Why it’s important to support Greater Eagle Fire Protection District ballot issue (letter) | VailDaily.com

Why it’s important to support Greater Eagle Fire Protection District ballot issue (letter)

Why it's important to support 6A

I am asking my fellow citizens to support our Greater Eagle Fire Protection District, which is now facing a dilemma not of its own making. The result is that fire safety services for the area are in jeopardy.

Like most rural fire districts, the Greater Eagle Fire Protection District is almost entirely dependent on property taxes for funding.

A funding formula dictated by the Gallagher Amendment to the Colorado Constitution has created the issue. It roughly splits property tax revenue between residential property (homes) and commercial property. Over the past few years, the percentage allowed for fire districts and other special districts has been declining at an alarming rate.

The fire district's funding cuts are happening while the district, which runs from Wolcott to West Eagle, is experiencing a building boom. In short, there is an increasing need for fire-safety service and far less money to make that happen.

The district doesn't have any more budgetary wiggle room and will have to cut firefighter numbers unless something changes.

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For some perspective, consider this: The district's budget was reduced approximately 24 percent from 2010 to 2018. We anticipate an additional reduction of 9 percent to 10 percent in 2020 from the Gallagher Amendment.

Even the increase in our property values will not offset the budget revenue decline from Gallagher. That's why the district is asking its residents for approval to change how things work.

A change in the funding requires a vote by district residents, and the district board has put measure 6A on the ballot for the Tuesday, Nov. 6, election.

The district board will be asking you to approve two things:

• A tax increase of 1 mil.

• Permission to opt out of the constraints of the Gallagher Amendment.

The district board has previously cut back on personnel, maintenance and much-needed capital improvements. It has also drawn down the district's reserve funds, applied for and received grants, as well as explored alternative revenue options.

The only option remaining as Greater Eagle Fire faces further funding cuts will be cutting the number of firefighters/EMTs, and as a result, service will be reduced and response times will increase.

Paying more in taxes is not something I like, but public safety is a priority in every community, and the residents of the Greater Eagle area deserve a fire district that can continue to provide it. That's why as a resident of the Eagle area, and as an individual, I'm urging you to support 6A.

Not having adequate emergency personnel to respond quickly to fires and other emergencies makes me nervous. The cost of 6A is a small price to pay to keep Greater Eagle Fire Protection District on the ready to serve the community.

So please join me and vote "yes" on 6A and encourage your neighbors to do the same.

An issues committee, Vote Yes For 6A, has been formed to support the ballot measure and has a website, voteyesfor6A.com, which contains more information about the measure. Also, visit this letter at http://www.vaildaily.com for information about how the Gallagher Amendment affects us.

Eric Peterson

Eagle