The Falcon Fire Protection District held its regular monthly board meeting Jan. 17. All directors were present, except for Richard Shearer, legal counsel for the district.
Note: The FFPD board has previously discussed the possibility of asking voters to increase the mill levy in order to fund a district-operated ambulance service and hire additional firefighters.
Paul Hanley, senior vice president with George K. Baum & Co., gave a presentation to the board about how his company can assist the fire district with efforts to obtain a mill levy increase. He stressed the importance of communications, community involvement and transparency when approaching voters. “When you involve the taxpayer in the process, things get better,” Hanley said.
Hanley noted that the Falcon Fire Protection District’s 8.612 mills is low compared to its peer districts. Fire Chief Trent Harwig said he estimated it would take an additional 5.5 mills to cover salaries and benefits for full-time EMS personnel to staff two ambulances, along with additional firefighters to bring staffing up to a minimum of three firefighters per station per shift. “Four (firefighters) would be even better,” he added. Even with an increase of 5.5 mills, the district’s mill levy will still be less than that of its peer districts.
Harwig said the future of ambulance transport in the county is uncertain, and there is no indication that ambulance service will improve under a new contract. He said, “We want to control our future, and we want to provide a better level of service.”
Harwig also said the district has received notice of another decrease in residential property assessment rates under the Gallagher amendment. That will affect the amount of revenue the district receives in the future.
The board voted to direct the chief to draft an engagement letter for the consultant and to schedule a special board meeting on Jan. 24.
Harwig reported that the district received $86,760 more revenue than was originally anticipated for 2017. He said more than $65,000 of that revenue came from an increase in special ownership taxes on vehicles as a result of last year’s hail damage and the Volkswagen recall. He also said some residents paid back taxes owed, and the district earned more than usual in interest.
The district spent $50,287 less than was budgeted, and the capital projects fund was $11,675 under budget for 2017, Harwig said.
The annual financial audit will probably be in March, he said.
The district received 252 calls for service in December 2017. This marks the second highest monthly call volume in department history and is the eighth straight month of 200 or more incidents. Response zones 1, 3, and 4 all had significant increases in call volume during December.
The 2017 total is 2,502 incidents, which is a 20.6 percent increase over 2016, which totaled 2,074 incidents.
There were 131 standby hours logged by reservists in December. No station brownouts occurred. Reserve standby hours are decreasing because the district hired a number of its reservists.
U.S. Highway 24/Old Meridian Rd. intersection
Director Tom Kerby said there was nothing new to report except that construction will start soon.