Voters in the Foothills Fire Protection District have turned down the district’s request for a bond and a mill levy increase to purchase property and build a fire station to help decrease response times to emergencies.
As of 9 p.m. Nov. 9 with 99% of the vote tabulated, the bond measure known as ballot issue 6B is losing with 1,849 or 74.41% of voters in the fire district voting against the measure and 636 or 25.59% voting in favor. A 1-mill levy ask called 6C also is losing with 1,668 or 67.23% of no votes compared with 813 or 32.77% of yes votes.
The Jeffco Clerk & Recorder's office says it has tallied all of the votes in its possession. Final vote totals will be available on Nov. 17 when overseas ballots will be counted.
This was the first time the department asked voters for a property tax increase since Foothills was formed in 1997. The department had asked for nearly $13 million total and if approved, homeowners would have paid about $54 per $100,000 of assessed valuation. The owner of a $500,000 home would have paid an additional $270 in property taxes each year.
"Foothills Fire is disappointed to see the results of ballot issues 6B and 6C," Fire Chief Alan Anderson said. "However, with four of the five largest wildfires in Colorado history occurring in the last three years, we must continue to find ways to sustain our aging infrastructure and improve our fire department for the community we serve."
The department wanted to acquire property in Paradise Hills in the middle of the district, for a new station, paid for by the bond, and it would become the department’s headquarters. It was asking for a 1 mill increase to pay for department operations including maintenance of the new station.
The proposal received opposition from some residents, some of whom picketed at Highway 40 near Paradise Hills, saying the ask was too large and wouldn’t help emergency response times for most of the district.
The department’s stations are old — one of them is 70 years old — and don’t have up-to-date safety measures for firefighters, Anderson has said. In addition, he said a new station would include a place for a volunteer firefighter to live, so the firefighter could be faster leaving for emergency calls.
The Foothills volunteer department has roots that go back decades. It was formed in 1997 when Mount Vernon, Idledale and Lookout Mountain fire departments combined to create a larger district that encompasses 25 square miles. It currently has four fire stations: El Rancho, Lookout Mountain, Idledale and Grapevine, which is near I-70 and exit 256.
The department had a fifth station that it closed last year when it lost the lease for the building. The fire department headquarters in El Rancho is actually a double-wide trailer.
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