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  Volume No. 15 Issue No. 6 June 2018  

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  FFPD February board meeting
  By Robin Widmar

   The Falcon Fire Protection District held its regular monthly board meeting Feb. 15. All board members were in attendance, as was Richard Shearer, legal counsel for the district.
   Treasurer’s report
   Fire Chief Trent Harwig reported that, as of Jan. 31, the fiscal year is 8 percent complete. The district has received 1 percent of its anticipated revenue, and general fund expenditures are at 7 percent.
   Harwig noted that the district saved $22,690 in interest by making the Station 4 lease purchase payment in January instead of June.
   The fire department had 175 calls for service in January, which is 2.2 percent fewer than January 2016 statistics.
   Old Meridian Road/U.S. Highway 24 intersection redesign
   Director Tom Kerby reported that the county is waiting on comments from the state but has money set aside to do the final design. He said the county will keep FFPD informed on the design.
   Station 4
   Harwig said interior paint has been completed, millwork has been scheduled for the week of Feb. 20, and landscaping is in progress. The contractor still anticipates completion in mid-March, and Harwig anticipates opening the station the first week of April.
   The board discussed a change order for the trash enclosure, as well as $18,000 in cold weather charges for the concrete. The contract states the district is responsible for the cold weather charges but does not specify cost. Board members questioned the timeliness of the concrete pour related to incoming cold weather and the cost for concrete accelerator. Harwig will look further into the charges.
   Board bylaws revision
   Attorney Richard Shearer recommended addressing revisions made to the board bylaws at the March meeting to allow directors time to review changes. He said the revised bylaws are similar to those approved by about a dozen other communities or districts.
   Member handbook revision
   Shearer advised that the FFPD member handbook be updated to reflect changes in laws regarding pregnant employees. The district can provide information but cannot mandate when a pregnant employee should quit working. However, he said, “They have to be able to do the essential functions of the job.”
   Agreement with Ellicott FPD
   The Ellicott Fire Protection District has expressed interest in storing apparatus at FFPD Station 6 in an arrangement similar to the one the district has with the Peyton Fire Protection District. Ellicott FPD will make plumbing repairs and pay for Internet and phone service, while Peyton FPD will continue to pay for gas to heat the building. The agreement was modified to reflect that Ellicott FPD may be required to take over the heating costs if Peyton FPD discontinues its agreement with FFPD.
   The board approved the agreement pending final corrections and legal review.
   Gallagher Amendment
   Note: For full details about the Gallagher Amendment and what it means for the fire district, see this month’s FFPD column and sidebar.
   The fire chief and board members held a 30-minute discussion about the financial ramifications of the state’s Gallagher Amendment. Harwig explained that the provisions of Gallagher will cause residential property assessment rates to decrease by about 18 percent in 2017. The current rate of 7.96 percent is estimated to drop to about 6.56 percent, which means a concurrent decrease in revenue for the fire district, even if property values continue to increase.
   If residential assessed values increase by 10 percent, Harwig estimated the district would still lose about $150,000 under the lower residential assessment rate. Factoring in projected revenue increases that the district had originally anticipated, the shortfall could total $450,000, which will have a significant impact on long-term financial sustainability.
   Harwig noted that the residential assessment rate will be finalized by April 15, and the county will provide valuation information in August. At that point, the district will know what it can expect in the way of revenue.
   Meanwhile, the district is already exploring options including grants and the possibility of asking voters for a mill levy increase. However, Harwig estimated that an additional 1.5 mills would only “maintain where we would have been next year.” Director Dan Kupferer suggested delaying a mill levy increase request until the district has hard numbers to show how Gallagher will affect the budget.
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  Safety Tip
  How to receive emergency notifications
  By Robin Widmar

   Once upon a time, wildfires kept a predictable schedule. In the modern era, firefighters now know that “fire season” lasts all year.
   In February, multiple wildfires around the county and state prompted evacuation notices for hundreds of people. The Falcon Fire Protection District reminds all residents to make sure they can receive emergency notifications when those messages are needed the most. Even those who don’t live in wildfire-prone areas such as the forest or prairie grasslands may need to know if an emergency situation is affecting their neighborhood.
  1. Go to the Emergency Notification System page on the El Paso–Teller County 911 Authority website (
  2. New users can create an account and specify their preferred means of receiving emergency notifications, as well as locations (e.g. home, work or school) for which they would like to receive notifications.
  3. Existing users should log in periodically to verify the information on file is accurate, and make updates as necessary. Anyone who signed up prior to July 2013 may need to create a new account due to system upgrades.

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