What is the Fire Districts Mill Levy
The fire district is funded by a mill levy (12.161 mills) and receives approximately $3,371,505 each year for general operations. The mill levy certified to the County Commissioners is 10.908 mills for all general operating purposes (subject to statutory and/or TABOR limitation), 0.081 for refunds and abatements, and 1.172 for general obligation bonds. The Jefferson County Assessors Office annually certifies the assessed property valuation and, based on the mill levy, the yearly property tax revenue is then determined.
The annual budget is the result of the efforts of personnel throughout the organization. Careful consideration is given to the various program proposals to ensure the fire district priorities are met. Personnel participating in the budget process closely scrutinize expenditures in order to meet the proposed revenues. Proposals are prioritized and recommendations made to delete or defer expenditures. Since emergency response services are the primary function of the fire district, these personnel expenditures must be considered before any other Divisions or Bureaus, such as EMS, Training and fire prevention.
How does the fire department operate today?
The community of Fairmount is nestled in between the towns of Golden, Arvada, and Wheat Ridge on Colorado’s Front Range. In the last decade, the community has grown rapidly and, in response to this growth, the fire district has grown, too. The total population is approximately 35,000, half being residential and the remaining commercial businesses and workers in the area. The Fairmount Fire Protection District is a combination department currently employing 24 career firefighters and staff, and over 50 volunteer firefighters, who graciously dedicate their time and efforts to the community. The majority of volunteer firefighters live outside of the community and typically work 12 to 48-hour shifts each month. Currently, Fairmount Fire has 3 stations; The District boundary protects the community of unincorporated Jefferson County and areas within the City of Wheat Ridge with numerous pieces of fire apparatus responding to Fire, Medical, Hazmat, Wildland, Technical Rescue incidents, fire prevention, inspection and public education programs. The fire department is a Special District and is governed by a five member Board of Directors elected by the community.
Response resources include:
Station 31 (4755 Isabell Street)
Fire Prevention (M-Fri)
Battalion Chief (24/7)
Volunteers respond to pick up equipment (when available)
Station 32 (18208 W. 58th Drive)
Staffed with a minimum of 2 career personnel and 1 volunteer when available (24/7)
Station 33 (12901 W. 43rd Drive)
Staffed with a minimum of 2 career personnel and 1 volunteer (24/7)
The FFPD has recognized that the service provided to the citizens must be balanced. This means a concerted effort of response, training, community safety, firefighter safety, inspections, plan review, and internal support. If any single component fails to meet its objectives then the goal of providing adequate services to the citizens is lost. Obtaining and understanding the desires and expectations of the community are important. FFPD is committed to incorporating the needs and expectations of residents and policy makers in the service delivery planning process.
Based on best practices, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA 1710 and 1720), Insurance Service Offices, Occupational Health and Safety Administration, and the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, a 2000 sq ft home should have a structure fire response of 14 personnel. A medical response should have 5 personnel, and an auto accident on roadways should have 9 personnel. The Fairmount model uses 5 career and 2 volunteers for daily staffing. Typically there is 1 person off each day due to sick, injury or vacation. Vacant positions are filled with a volunteer when possible or overtime if available. Administrative staff fills in when available as well. The fire district has mutual aid agreements with neighboring departments to provide additional personnel on incidents when needed. The agreements are reciprocal with Fairmount providing assistance to neighboring departments.
TO PROVIDE THE HIGHEST LEVEL OF PROFESSIONAL SERVICES WHILE PRESERVING LIFE, PROPERTY AND THE ENVIRONMENT BY BEING PROACTIVE, PROGRESSIVE AND RESPONSIVE TO OUR COMMUNITIES.
TO EXCEL IN PROVIDING PROFESSIONAL EMERGENCY SERVICES THROUGH INNOVATION, PARTNERING, RESPONSIBILITY, TRANSPARENCY, AND CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT.
What is the governance model for the fire district?
An elected five-member Board of Directors was established in 1960 and governs the FFPD. The directors are elected during special elections held in May and serve a four-year term. The fire district is authorized by and held to Colorado Revised Statutes Title 32 Special Districts. Directors are elected and represent all residences (at large) of the District. There are four main methods that the governing body approves programs and ensures policy compliance. These are the Strategic Plan, annual budget, the annual audit, and the promulgation of Board policies. The Board of Directors meets monthly to address any policy, issues and concerns, and normal functions of business. These meetings are publicly posted in advance with minutes kept as per bylaws and State Statute.
What grants has the District received, in what amounts and in what years?
(Please note that the matching funds will always show the FEMA share/Fairmount Fire share).
- FEMA/DHS Grant #EMW-2004-FG-03125, amount of award: $112,572.00 a 70/30 fund match. This grant allowed us to purchase 53 complete sets of structural firefighter turnout (bunker) gear, which included; helmets, coats, pants, gloves, hoods and boots. With funds received this grant has been closed out.
- 2005 Gaming Grant, by the State of Colorado, amount of award $33,084.00 a 70/30 match. This was the first Gaming Grant received by Fairmount Fire; it allowed us to purchase 2 sets of high pressure airbags and 2 sets of low pressure air bags. It also funded 30 students for basic first aid and 5 students to complete an EMT course for certification. With funds received this grant has been closed out.
- FEMA/DHS Grant #EMW-2006-FG-11524, amount of award: $35,000.00 a 95/5 fund match. This grant was for self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) system upgrades to the Cascade System, additional compressor and fill station. With funds received this grant has been closed out.
- 2004 Energy & Mineral Impact Grant, State of Colorado, amount of award, $235,000.00 an award for a Type 3 Engine. With funds received this grant has been closed out.
- 2007 Energy & Mineral Impact Grant, State of Colorado, amount of award, $440,000.00 an award to help offset the cost of a Fire Training Structure, with the remainder of the cost to be the District’s cost through In Kind donations, and funding with bond money. With funds received this grant has been closed out, and the Training Center was completed and is used for valuable trainings, not only by Fairmount, but by several fire agencies in the area as well as the Jeffco Sheriff and the bomb squad.
- FEMA/DHS Grant #EMW-2008-FF-0297, amount of award: $342,016.00 a 5 year graduated matching fund grant; 1st Yr. 90/10, 2nd Yr. 70/30, 3rd Yr. 50/50, 4th Yr. 30/70, s” Yr. 10/90. This Grant allowed us to hire 3 Firefighters; we were required to remain at the same staffing level as when the firefighters hired on, throughout the life of the grant to remain compliant and receiving grant funding on this grant. With funds received this grant is in the process of being closed out. The cost of these firefighters is now entirely incurred by the fire district.
- 2005 State of Colorado Department of Public Health, amount of award $19,102.00 a 50/50 match. This grant allowed us to purchase needed equipment and supplies to keep on our apparatus for response to Medical type calls. With funds received this grant has been closed out.
- 2008 State of Colorado, Radio Grant, amount of award $160,000.00, an award to help offset the cost of a 800 MHz radio system upgrade. With funds received this grant has been closed out.
- FEMA/DHS Grant #EMW-2009-FC-01606R, amount of award $132,787.00 a 100/0 FEMA funded. This was the station grant that allowed us to completely renovate station 3 to include sleeping quarters, a kitchen, offices, laundry, 5 bays with at least one dedicated to truck maintenance. With funds received this grant has been closed out.
- FEMA/DHS Grant #EMW-2009-FO-06674, amount of award $66,450.00 a 95/5 match. This grant was to allow us to purchase 30 complete sets of structural firefighter turnout (bunker) gear, to include; helmets, coats, pants, gloves, hoods & boots. With funds received this grant has been closed out.
- FEMA/DHS Grant #EMW-2010-FO-04054, amount of award $83,800.00 a 95/5 match. This grant was to provide Fairmount Firefighters and staff with a complete cardiac workup and assessment, to include carotid artery ultrasound, a comprehensive lipid profile and an Echo Cardiogram, and a diabetes screening. All volunteers and paid personnel who had questionable results followed up with further testing and referrals for medication and primary care physician or cardiologist care. With funds received this grant has been closed out.
- FEMA/DHS Grant #EMW-2011-FF-00358, amount of award $264,984.00 a 100/0, a 5 year, 100% FEMA funded grant. This grant allowed us to hire a Volunteer Coordinator and offer a comprehensive benefit package in addition to a salary. This grant is in the second year of the period of performance at this time. When the grant is closed out in 2017, the fire district will incur the entire cost of the position.
- FEMA/DHS Grant #EMW-2012-FO-02707, amount of award $101,830 .00 a 95/5 match. This grant allowed us to purchase 85 complete sets of Wildland personal protective Nomex clothing, wildland boots, gloves, helmet shields, shelters, backpacks and misc. gear, to protect our
firefighters while they are fighting wildland fire local and national. We are currently awaiting funds, and will then proceed to close out this grant.
Why is the district considering adding Advanced Life Support (ALS) paramedic care on the first arriving engine?
To improve patient care by providing advanced life support capabilities in the nationally recognized response standard of 6 minutes. The fire district has a few paramedics but their coverage is not consistently provided due to staffing. All paid personnel are certified as basic level Emergency Medical Technicians, volunteers at minimum have Emergency Medical Response certification and CPR. Currently, our ambulance transport and advanced life support care is provided by PrideMark/Rural Metro Ambulance.
What are the Tabor and the Gallagher Amendment?
Q: When was the Gallagher Amendment adopted?
A: The Gallagher Amendment was adopted in1982 when Colorado voters approved the measure. The amendment is named for state senator Dennis Gallagher, who was one of the primary sponsors of the measure.
Q. Why was the Gallagher Amendment passed?
A: The passage of the Gallagher Amendment by the voters of Colorado in 1982 was the culmination of a property tax revolt that originated in the late 1970s. Homeowners, concerned about skyrocketing residential property taxes, pressured the state legislature to address the problem.
As a result, in 1982 Speaker of the House, Bev Bledsoe appointed nine members from the General Assembly to study the problem and recommend solutions. The Gallagher Amendment was the culmination of the panels effort to find a workable solution to skyrocketing residential property taxes.
Q: What does the Gallagher Amendment do?
A: The Gallagher Amendment divides the states total property tax burden between residential and nonresidential (commercial) property. According to the Amendment, 45% of the total amount of state property tax collected must come from residential property, and 55% of the property tax collected must come from commercial property. Further, the Amendment mandates that the assessment rate for commercial property, which is responsible for 55% of the total state property tax burden, be fixed at 29%. The residential rate, on the other hand, is annually adjusted to hold the 45/55 split constant.
Q: How was the 45%-55% split set by the Gallagher Amendment determined?
A: In 1982, residential property was responsible for 45% of the states total property value, and commercial property was responsible for 55% of the states total property value. The authors of the Gallagher Amendment believed that the overall property tax burden should continue to reflect this split. As a result, with the passage of the Gallagher Amendment, the 45/55 split was set in stone.
Q: How is property tax calculated?
A: Property tax = (market value of property) X (assessment rate) X (mill levy)
For example, in order to calculate the residential property tax on a $100,000 home, the market value of the property is multiplied by the assessment rate and the mill levy. By multiplying the
value of the home ($100,000) by the 2003 residential assessment rate (7.96%), we get the assessment value ($7,960), or the amount of value subject to taxation. This amount multiplied by the mill levy equals total tax liability. Using a mill levy rate of 100 mills for this example, the total tax burden for a $100,000 home in 2003 would be $796.
A commercial property valued at $100,000 would be subject to the same formula, but would be taxed on 29% of its worth, or $29,000. Multiplied by the 100 mills, the total tax liability for the commercial property in 2003 would be $2,900.
Q. How is the market value of a property determined for purposes of property taxes?
A. Under the Gallagher Amendment, properties must be reassessed every two years by the county assessor of the county in which they are located. Market values are determined based on recent sales of similar property in the area.
Q: What is the assessment rate?
A: The assessment rate (sometimes called the assessment ratio) is the percentage of the propertys assessed value that is taxed. For example, under Gallagher, the assessment rate for nonresidential property is fixed at 29%. That means that of the total market value of the property, 29% is subject to taxation. The residential property assessment rate floats each year in order to meet the 45/55 split mandated by Gallagher. Because of rapidly increasing residential property values, the residential assessment rate has sunk from approximately 21% in 1982 to around 7.9% today.
Q: What is a mill levy?
A: A mill levy is a property tax rate based on dollars per thousand of assessed valuation. For example, a mill levy of 50 means $50 of tax per $1,000 in assessed value. Mill levies are levied by a taxing district such as a school district or fire district on property owners in the district. By law, each taxing district must set a single mill levy that applies uniformly to all property within the district.
Q: Why has the residential assessment rate gone down since 1982?
A: In 1982, the first year of Gallagher, the residential property assessment rate was 21% (and the nonresidential property assessment rate was 29%, as fixed by Gallagher in perpetuity). However, the rapid escalation in residential property values, combined with the growth boom of the 1990s, led to the 45% share of property tax collected from residential properties being dispersed across more and more residences that were worth more and more money. Something had to give in order to maintain the 45/55 split. In Colorado, in order to maintain the 45/55 split, the residential property assessment rate has dropped from 21% in 1982 to the current level of 7.96%.
Q: Does residential property still account for 45% and commercial property 55% of the stateâ€™s total property value?
A: No. In the thirty years since Gallagher passed, increases in residential property values have significantly outpaced the increases in the value of commercial property. In fact, residential property, which made up only 45% of the stateâ€™s total property value in 1982, today accounts for 75% of the stateâ€™s total property value. However, due to the Gallagher Amendment, residential property is only responsible for 45% of the stateâ€™s total property tax burden. Conversely, commercial property, which now accounts for only 25% of total property value in the state, is still responsible for 55% of the stateâ€™s total tax burden.
Q: What services and entities do property taxes fund?
A: Property taxes are local governmentsâ€™ primary source of funding. Local governments are responsible for providing a host of different services, ranging from police and fire protection to street repair. Public schools are very dependent upon property tax revenues. Sixty cents of every dollar collected in property tax revenue is dedicated to K-12 funding.
Q: What impact has the TABOR Amendment had on Gallagher?
A: Traditionally mill levies were allowed to float to counteract cyclical economic cycles and help protect local governmentâ€™s primary revenue source. However, TABOR has been interpreted by many as preventing mill levies from increasing without a vote of the people.
As a result, if the assessed value of a property declines, as happened in many areas of Colorado in 2002 and again in 2008, the mill levy can no longer counteract the effect that reduced values have on the amount of property tax collected. In addition, if overall property values located in a jurisdiction go up so fast that the tax revenue would outpace TABORâ€™s allowable revenue limit, the jurisdiction may need to lower the mill levy. In this case, TABOR prevents the jurisdiction from raising the mill levy to its previous levels without a vote. As a result, the collision between TABOR and Gallagher has led to a structural ratcheting down effect on funding for local governments. (www.cde.state.co.us)
What are the office hours?
The district office is open Monday – Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Closed for lunch 12:00 – 1:00. We are closed holidays and weekends.