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Mill Levy Planning Information

Why is Calhan Fire Protection District (CFPD) considering placing a mill levy proposal on the November 2020 ballot?

CFPD seeks to strengthen its ability to serve and protect our community by adding firefighter/paramedics and improving the reliability of its life-saving equipment.

Is the Fire District’s call volume increasing?
Yes. CFPD’s call volume has been on the rise, increasing more than 35% over the past five years.

Are CFPD’s emergency calls primarily medical related?
About 80 percent of the Fire District’s calls are medical related, including medical emergencies, traffic accidents, trauma calls and lift assists.

How large of an area does the Fire District serve?
CFPD’s service area is about 250 square miles, including parts of both El Paso and Elbert counties. Our first responders are also responsible for providing mutual aid to neighboring fire districts over a 900-square-mile area.

How many residents are CFPD responsible for protecting?
The Fire District protects more than 5,000 residents as well as hundreds of homes, schools, churches, warehouses, wind turbines and retail properties.

Why don’t we have enough firefighter/paramedics?
CFPD does not have the funds necessary to hire full-time firefighter/paramedics. There is also a national shortage of paramedics and other fire districts in the area are aggressively recruiting paramedics.

Can we simply enlist more volunteer firefighters?
Given the amount of training required to handle the complexity and quantity of our emergency calls, it is increasingly challenging to find willing, capable volunteers.

How many career firefighters does CFPD currently have in place?
CFPD has two career firefighter/EMTs. They are on duty during the day. The remainder of the District’s first responders are volunteers.

Does the Fire District currently have any firefighter/paramedics?
The Fire District has one firefighter/paramedic. She is a volunteer. Many of the medical emergencies
are addressed by the District’s firefighter/EMTs—both career and volunteer personnel.

Are there any career firefighters on duty in the evening?
No. Staffing during the evening is all volunteer.

Do most of the volunteer firefighters have full-time jobs?
Some of the volunteers are retired career firefighters, but most hold down full-time jobs during the day.

In addition to staffing needs, what other challenges does the District face?

The District’s two ambulances have logged more than 6,200 service hours and are 13 and 21 years old. Although they are well maintained, they are quickly reaching the end of their useful life. Similarly, vital equipment such as self-contained breathing apparatus is significantly outdated, posing a potential threat to our
first responders.

Why are calls becoming more frequent and more complex?

The rapid increase in call volume and complexity is due in large part to the medical needs of the District’s aging population. With 532 calls annually, the majority of which are medical emergencies, the community is
more reliant than ever on prompt response times.

How would funds from the proposed mill levy be used?

Funds from the proposed mill levy would be used to:

  • Add three new firefighter/paramedics
  • Retain existing career firefighter/EMTs
  • Implement an equipment, vehicle and apparatus replacement program, starting with the replacement of outdated self-contained breathing apparatus and the District’s 21-year-old ambulance

Would the new firefighter/paramedics be teamed up with firefighter/EMTs?

Yes, the current plan being considered would have the new firefighter/paramedics team up with firefighter/EMTs. This would allow the Fire District to have at least one paramedic on duty at all times.

Would the firefighter/paramedics respond to non-medical-related calls?

The firefighter/paramedics would respond to all types of emergency calls, including structure fires.

How would the new mill levy help to retain career firefighters?

A portion of the mill levy funds would ensure that existing and new career firefighter/EMTs and firefighter/paramedics have health benefits in place, similar to what is offered by other fire districts that have full-time personnel. Without health insurance in place, it will be extremely difficult for CFPD to attract and retain seasoned first responders.

Unlike the existing ambulances, would the new ambulance be four-wheel drive?

Any new ambulances that are purchased would be four-wheel drive. Neither of CFPD’s current ambulances are four-wheel drive, which has resulted in serious problems for first responders responding to emergency calls during blizzards.

What are the anticipated benefits of the proposed mill levy?
The voter-approved mill levy would allow CFPD to maintain response times and emergency services as well as protect first responders. The Fire District is also confident that the additional staffing and capital equipment replacement program would help to maintain the District’s Insurance Service Office (ISO) rating, which is one of the key factors that drives insurance rates for homeowners.

Is CFPD’s tax rate and total taxable assessed valuation lower than other fire districts in the area?
Compared to its peer districts, CFPD has one of the lowest tax rates at 6.325 mills. In fact, many of the fire districts in our area have a mill levy that is two to three times greater than our own. The Fire District also has one of the lowest total taxable assessed valuations. A low tax levy and a low assessed valuation results in substantially less funding for CFPD compared to other fire districts in our area.

Has the Fire District put any funds aside to help pay for vehicle replacement and other expenses?
Yes. Over the past 13 years, CFPD has been able to save enough monies to help pay for about half of the cost of a new ambulance as well as the addition of bay space to house new vehicles and equipment.

What about obtaining grants to address operating and equipment needs?

The District continues to seek grants to help pay for operating and equipment needs. However, these monies are becoming scarcer.

What other funding challenges does the District face?

Colorado’s residential assessment rate (RAR) has dropped from more than 14% to 7.15% since 1990. While this is great news for residential property taxpayers, the lower RAR has reduced the District’s revenues. Fees tied to emergency medical services also do not match the cost, especially when the District is reimbursed by Medicare and Medicaid.

Would there be tax relief for seniors?
For residents who qualify and apply for the Senior Property Tax Exemption, the tax impact would be lower.

Has a Citizen Task Force vetted the mill levy proposal?
CFPD assembled a Citizen Task Force, including business, civic, educational and faith-based leaders, and other community members, to help vet the mill levy proposal.

How can district residents provide input on the proposed mill levy?
CFPD strongly believes that when it comes to protecting the community, every second counts, every dollar counts and every voice counts. To that end, we will be conducting a districtwide public opinion survey that will be mailed to registered voter households in June 2020.

What if residents have additional questions?
Those with further questions or comments regarding the proposed mill level may personally contact Shane Gattis at 719.347.3057 or calhanfire.qwestoffice.net.

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