The Falcon Fire Protection District held its regular board meeting Sept. 19. All board members were present as were attorneys Richard Shearer and Joan Fritsche, legal counsel for the district.
FFPD Fire Chief Trent Harwig reported that 66 percent of the fiscal year was complete as of Aug. 31. The general fund had received 95 percent of its anticipated revenue. Expenditures were at 60 percent.
Harwig said it appears that the county will not be ready to complete the Old Meridian Road project this year, so the district’s parking lot repaving will be deferred to next year to align with the county work.
Fire apparatus updates
Harwig reported that Rosenbauer, the manufacturer of the district’s newest fire engine, has missed its contractual delivery date and is now incurring a daily penalty that will slightly lower the price of the apparatus. Delivery is expected by early November.
As part of a scheduled fleet replacement, the district has signed a contract with Rosenbauer for another engine, which will take about 14 months to build. Harwig noted that the price increased by about 3 percent over the previous contract, but the district received a discount by paying for the cab and chassis upfront. Aluminum prices are expected to increase due to tariffs, but Harwig said the district was able to lock in its cost before those prices go up. The price of the new fire engine will be $558,368.
Harwig announced that the district has been awarded a SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response) grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This three-year grant provides partial salary and benefits for nine firefighters. The grant will cover 75 percent of the rate of an entry-level firefighter/EMT for the first and second years, and only 35 percent of that entry-level rate in the third year. The district’s costs would include but are not limited to the remaining salary and benefits; annual cost-of-living increases; salary increases as firefighters progress from fifth-class to first class; personal protective equipment (bunker gear); uniforms; and hiring expenses such as background checks. Harwig estimated the district’s share will be around $900,000 over three years.
Harwig explained that the district must hire all nine firefighters shown in the grant application, not just some of them. “It’s all or nothing, nine or none,” he said. He also said that the district must keep those nine firefighter positions for the entire three years in addition to the original staffing numbers submitted for the grant. The district would have to return grant funds if the grant is terminated early.
“The timing of the grant is good,” Harwig said.“This and the ballot measure work really well together.” The grant Period of Performance begins in February; and, before then the board will know whether voters have approved the district’s November ballot measure seeking a mill levy increase. Harwig said the passage of that measure will provide long-term funding to ensure that the district can maintain salaries and benefits for the nine firefighters after the grant expires. Without a mill levy increase, Harwig said, “It’s going to be close.” He also said that no one can predict the next economic downturn or how much the district’s revenue will be affected if there is a downward adjustment in residential assessment rates.
Harwig noted that 2006 was the last time FFPD applied for and received a SAFER grant. At the time, SAFER was a five-year program and the economy went into a recession at the end of the grant. The district sought and received a mill levy increase in 2011 to retain the firefighters hired under the 2006 SAFER grant.
Reserve standby hours
Harwig reported that FFPD reservists logged 703 hours of standby in August, and there were no station “brownouts” for the month. He said the second rookie academy of the year was going well with 14 recruits remaining.
There were 229 calls for service in August, which is a 1.3 percent increase over August 2017. The year-to-date total through Aug. 31 is 1,798 calls, which is an 11.3 percent increase over the same period in 2017.
The board adopted Resolution 9-19-2018-1 supporting the Nov.6 ballot measure seeking voter approval of a 6.274 mill levy increase to meet the emergency needs of the community. In summary, the resolution states that the district board of directors determined the necessity of a mill levy increase after careful review and consideration of current and long-term district needs; and that the additional tax revenue shall be used to implement a district-operated advanced life support ambulance service and strategically add firefighters and EMTs to maintain emergency services.
The full text of the resolution is available online at: http://falconfirepd.org
Attorney Richard Shearer reported the process is moving forward for clarifying that the district owns the property behind Station 3. The chief and his staff are working with the Falcon Highlands Metro District to complete the sale of the parcel west of Station 3 to the county. There are no documents yet for the Shiloh Mesa exclusion, but everyone involved agrees on one exclusion that includes all lots instead of multiple exclusions of individual lots.
Fred Little provided an update about efforts by the Friends of Falcon Fire group in support of the district’s ballot measure.