Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the amount of the mill levy increase (increase in property taxes) in ballot issue 6C. We apologize for the error.
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — A proposed new fire station is causing controversy in the Foothills Fire Protection District.
Ballot issue 6B in Jefferson County requests $25 million for the Foothills Fire Protection District, paid over a 30-year period, for a new, more centrally located station.
Foothills Fire’s headquarters is on the edge of their jurisdiction, so this proposed spot would be more centrally located.
Fire station would double as affordable housing
This same location is on the edge of Paradise Drive at U.S. 40. This is where FOX31 found residents protesting this ballot measure over the weekend. They feel there is a lack of transparency with the ballot measure.
“It’s astounding what they’re asking,” Dave Stajcar, one of those protesters, said. “I don’t understand why he wants a Taj Mahal for a volunteer fire department.”
Chief Alan Anderson said the district currently has four stations: the main Rainbow Station near the Evergreen exit, Lookout Station on Lookout Mountain Road, Idledale Station on Miller Lane and Grapevine Station near Interstate 70 on Grapevine Road.
The proposed station is practically in the center of those locations. The chief said this would cut down response times because instead of responding from home, some staff would be in-house.
“We want to put, essentially, apartments in the fire station to provide affordable housing for our volunteers so that we have staffing 24 hours a day,” Anderson said.
Fire station would cost $637 per square foot
As for the cost, it’s $12.7 million for the building costs, but it will be closer to $25 million over the 30-year bond. Projected construction costs are around $637 per square foot.
“I just don’t think they’ve done their due diligence at this time,” said Dave Robinson, a former fire board president. “I say back up and try again, because we do need this, but not for $13 million. That’s just silly.”
The chief explained why they’re asking for that number of $12.7 million.
“We asked for up to 12.7 (million) because we don’t want to run into a situation where we ask for a certain amount of money to build a fire station and — due to inflation, due to extreme cost for construction — we don’t want to have to go back to the community later on and say, ‘Oops, we didn’t forecast high enough,'” the chief said.
Residents feel there are other options with the stations in place.
“They could split up their five paid people and put personnel around the district if they really wanted district-wide coverage,” said Pati Stajcar, another former volunteer with the fire district.
Some feel as though the open space could be used as a park or recreation area for children.
When it comes to remodeling the older stations to add in the apartments or other upgrades, it was not feasible because of the cost and the age of some of the buildings.
Ballot issue 6C: Salaries, infrastructure
The second part of the measure is 6C, which would increase property taxes to pay for staff salaries, ongoing infrastructure and to balance out the lack of raised taxes in the past 25 years.
The increase in 2023 would be “1 mil” ($1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value), and is estimated to total $111,000 in tax revenue.