The Falcon Fire Protection District held its regular board meeting Dec. 13 at the Falcon Fire Administration Building at 7030 Old Meridian Road. Directors Jim Reid, Dan Kupferer, Tom Kerby and Steve Podoll were present. Ray Hawkins teleconferenced in. Also present were Fire Chief Trent Harwig and Attorney Joan Fritsche, legal counsel for the district.
Cherokee Metro District charging for water?
Harwig informed the directors that the district received correspondence from the Cherokee Metro District announcing that they will charge FFPD for using water for training. Harwig said once in a while the FFPD will use water from a fire hydrant for training and the Cherokee Metro District wants it to be metered and paid for.
Deputy Chief Jeff Petersma said Cherokee wants to charge a $3,000 deposit for the meter, $10 a day rental fee for the meter and $6 for every 750 gallons of water used. Harwig said it was the first water district he knew about that wanted to charge a fire department for water for training purposes. He said it was frustrating coming from another government entity, as if they forget that money the district spends is not the district’s money, it is the taxpayers’ money, the same taxpayers who are also Cherokee’s taxpayers.
Kerby said that ultimately any water the FFPD uses for training purposes is a drop in the bucket considering the amount of water the Cherokee district uses, and the fact is that FFPD uses the water to train to provide public service to taxpayers, including Cherokee. Kerby said he could not imagine any district wanting to charge a fire district for water. Fritsche suggested letting Cherokee know when FFPD will do training, and Harwig said that FFPD does tend to notify districts about planned training, and sometimes the water districts direct FFPD to which fire hydrants to use. Harwig then suggested to try to get a meeting with Cherokee Metro District. He said he emailed Amy Lathen, general manager, a week ago and has not heard back.
Harwig reported that 91.7% of the fiscal year was complete as of Nov. 30. The general fund received 104% of its budgeted revenues, with two months left. Expenditures across all fund categories were at 86%. Special ownership tax that comes from new vehicle sales and registrations came in at 89%, which Harwig considers better than expected because of the economy. The ambulance transport fund has received 116% of the budgeted revenues because of the Medicaid supplemental payment. Expenses across all categories in the fund are 68% under the annual budget. The capital projects fund was at 108% of budgeted revenue, and expenses are currently at 29% because the fleet maintenance building got pushed over to 2023. The Rural Water Fund revenue budget was $100. Due to the skyrocketing interest rates, they received $489 in depositor interest. Harwig said that rural water fund revenues are up 389%. Mathematically, when the budget is $100, it’s actually 489% of the budget. It’s a small fund so getting $389 more than anticipated makes the numbers look high in percentages.
Petersma presented the numbers for October. There were 357 calls in October, with the greatest number, 116 calls, coming in from District 1; and the lowest number — six — from District 5. The total year-to-date call volume was 3,267 of all agency calls and 2,593 in district calls. Petersma said it looked like the district will finish the year with just under 4,000 calls, slightly lower than last year.
Petersma then reported on mutual aid given and received and said there was nothing out of the ordinary. He said there were 36 reserve hours for October and November as well. Emergency Medical Services Chief Jon Webb provided an update on November ambulance activity. He said there were 125 transports from 213 calls. They billed $83,429.35 for cash per trip of $575.37. Webb said the district had 1,442 transports year to date. Collections year to date were $899,004.74.
Lt. Curtis Kauffman informed the directors that there were 17 fire inspections, one new project inspection, five fire finals, four El Paso County Development reviews and one fire evaluation performed in November. He also said that he was still waiting for the governor’s office to give permission to enact the 2021 fire code.
Banning Lewis Ranch exclusion petition
Reid brought up the Banning Lewis Ranch exclusion resolution as unfinished business. The board unanimously passed the resolution to approve a petition filed by BLH No. 1, LLC, BLH No. 2 LLC, BLH No. 3 LLC and North Meadow Metropolitan District No. 1 to exclude specific real estate property from the district’s boundaries.
Harwig informed the directors that the district signed and moved forward with the design agreement with Hammers Construction. The amount is $69,000 for the design part and $17,500 estimated permit fees for a guaranteed maximum of $86,500. The district gave Hammers Construction a downpayment of $2,500. Harwig said they met with Hammers Construction to discuss how the cost of the building can be reduced through design adjustments, and those adjustments lowered the costs by $250,000. In addition, Hammers Construction agreed to drop their profit overhead from 12% to 10%. Harwig said he anticipates the final bid, which includes the amount paid for the design agreement, to be closer to $1.9 million as opposed to the $2 to $2.2 million originally proposed in the bid. Harwig said Hammers Construction believes everything can be built on schedule and completed in October 2024. There will be a couple more meetings during the design stage, Harwig added, after which the contract will need to be approved and signed.
Harwig said that since the state legislators changed the timeline of when the county has to certify their final numbers to provide to the district, a new date needs to be set. He suggested Jan. 3 since the board cannot proceed with resolutions until they get final numbers from the county. Harwig then discussed current legislative actions in response to the failure of Proposition HH and concluded that between the current and former legislation and revenue backfill, the district should not be negatively impacted.
2024 approved pay, leave and allowance schedule
Harwig said this issue, which is typically discussed during the budget meeting, has to be discussed currently because the pay period starts Jan. 1, prior to the budget being finalized Jan. 3. He said Cimarron Hills did a comprehensive salary study and FFPD took that study and adjusted it by removing Colorado Springs and itself. After averaging out information from other districts, Harwig said the Falcon Fire Protection District was about 10% lower for most positions. The pay, leave and allowance schedule shows a 10% across-the-board increase to get the district on par with other districts in the region. The board unanimously approved the schedule.