The Falcon Fire Protection District held its regular monthly board meeting April 18. All directors were present except for Joan Hathcock, who had an excused absence. Richard Shearer, legal counsel for the district, was also present.
Fire Chief Trent Harwig reported that with the fiscal year 25 percent complete, the district has received 41 percent of its anticipated revenue due to property taxes starting to come in. Expenses across the general fund are at 20 percent.
The auditor recommended that the district change to a zero sum balance method of accounting versus carrying an ending balance. He said the amount currently considered as the end balance should become a contingency and should be a line item in the budget.
Harwig reported that recruits from the most recent fire academy are starting to be released to work on the line and complete their task books. The next academy begins with 20 students April 28.
Harwig said the district is applying for a “Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response” (SAFER) grant to hire six additional firefighters. The grant awards will be announced in September.
Director Thomas Kerby asked whether the district is still on track for hiring three additional firefighters mid-year. Harwig said it is, but noted that the SAFER grant only applies to firefighters hired after the grant is awarded, and cannot be applied retroactively. If the district hires three firefighters mid-year, it would have to hire an additional six should the district be awarded the SAFER grant.
Reserve firefighters logged 363 standby hours in March.
FFPD responded to 187 calls for service in March, which is a 2.2 percent increase over March 2017. The year-to-date total through March 31 is 600 calls, which is an increase of 15.4 percent over the same period in 2017.
Station 2 cell tower lease
Harwig said he met with a planner at the county, and the plans for Fidelity Towers to establish a cell tower at FFPD Station 2 have expired. Another company could place a cell tower at the Station 2 site but would have to update the plans with the county.
Public safety task force
Harwig said the public safety task force held its second meeting. Members vetted the fire district’s proposal and agreed that a mill levy increase was needed. They unanimously supported sending out a questionnaire to solicit public opinion about the proposal.
Voters in the district will begin receiving letters that explain what the district is doing and alerting them to the survey.
Three town hall meetings will be held May 2, May 19 and May 31. Harwig said, “The town hall meeting is between us and the public to say, ‘this is why you’re receiving this’ (the survey).” He said the goal is to get as many people as possible to complete and return the survey.
At its June meeting, the task force will develop a recommendation incorporating feedback from the survey and present it to the FFPD Board of Directors at the July board meeting. Harwig said the board will make the ultimate decision whether to move forward with the proposed mill levy increase; the task force acts independently to provide a recommendation to the board.
Station 1 park easement
Harwig said he met with a representative of the Woodmen Hills Parks and Recreation to discuss the proposed park for kids with disabilities at Fire Station 1. He said legalities must still be worked out, and emphasized that the fire district will not put any funds into the park. The project will rely on donations and other outside funding. Woodmen Hills would maintain the park. Harwig noted that the project will take a year or two to complete.