The Falcon Fire Protection District held its regular monthly board meeting June 21. All board members were present. Richard Shearer, legal counsel for the district, did not attend but was available by phone.
New firefighters sworn in
Joey Bebb, Taylor Kurtz, and Brandon McKenna were sworn in as Falcon firefighters after completing their required task books and certifications.
With 42 percent of the fiscal year complete, Fire Chief Trent Harwig reported that the district has received 57 percent of its anticipated revenue. General fund expenditures were at 34 percent of budgeted expenses. He said the district just paid some final bills for the new station, so capital fund expenditures, which are used for assets such as Station 4 construction and the new fire engine, are at 81 percent.
Harwig noted that the district has some unanticipated salary expenditures due to overtime costs to cover the position of a member on long-term medical leave. Even so, salaries were only at 33 percent of the budgeted amount. He said salaries should still be within budget at the end of the year.
The district is still waiting to see if it will be awarded a federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant to hire more firefighters. The district has applied for a grant through the El Pomar Foundation to offset costs for the purchase of two LIFEPAK® 15 cardiac monitor/defibrillators. These devices were obtained at a discounted cost that saved the district about $30,000. An application for a grant from Mountain View Electric Association was declined.
July board meeting rescheduled
The board voted to reschedule the July regular meeting because several personnel would be unavailable. The meeting will be held one week early on July 12 at 4 p.m. at HQ/Station 3.
The district had 227 calls for service in May, which is the second highest monthly call volume since June 2013, when the Black Forest fire occurred. The year-to-date total is 940 incidents, 7.6 percent higher than May 2016. Only 15 of the May calls can be attributed to FFPD responses in areas previously covered by the Colorado Springs Fire Department in Response Zone/District 4.
Response times in District 4 show a significant decrease following the opening of Station 4 May 13.
U.S. Highway 24 improvements
Harwig and board president Dan Kupferer, along with representatives from other county emergency response agencies, attended a meeting with a Colorado Department of Transportation consultant regarding proposed improvements along the Highway 24 corridor. Harwig said CDOT was still in the study process, and there is no time frame for the work. He added that more community meetings will be held to solicit feedback as the project progresses.
Harwig attended a meeting with Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs representatives and county attorneys regarding proposed impact fees and the county-wide Intergovernmental Agreement for collection of those fees. He said, “We’re in agreement with the entire IGA and resolution except for two items.” One is an HBA-requested extension of the time frame (from 60 to 90 days) for impact fees to go into effect.
The other item centered on whether impact fees apply to previously approved plats. The current draft of the IGA states that impact fees will be assessed on all new construction at the time the building permit is issued, regardless of when the lot was platted. Harwig said some members of the HBA agree with the fire districts that impact fees should apply to all new construction because it’s those new structures that are creating the demand on existing infrastructure and emergency response agencies. “The impact doesn’t happen until something is built,” he said.
Harwig said an additional point of contention revolved around determining the value of existing fire department assets, which is necessary to calculate the amount of an impact fee. The higher the values used, the higher the impact fee. The three fire district impact fee studies already conducted in El Paso County were based on replacement values. HBA has argued for using original cost/value, even though those numbers do not reflect what it would cost to provide additional assets (such as fire stations and apparatus) to support new growth.
The issue goes back before the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday, June 27.
Falcon Fire Chief Trent Harwig administered the oath of office to firefighters (left to right) Brandon McKenna, Taylor Kurtz and Joey Bebb. Photo by Robin Widmar