Aspen Fire Protection District wins voters’ support for mill levy
The Aspen Fire Protection District won over its electorate Tuesday with the passage of a property tax aimed to build worker housing and replace old trucks, among other capital improvements.
Ballot question 6A generated more than 71 percent in the fire district’s favor, which Chief Rick Balentine said will financially position the district to make overdue capital improvements by generating an estimated $3.3 million its first year and another $51.5 million over the next 19 years.
“A lot of people put hard work into this, not just me, and I’m thankful to have all of these people,” Balentine said. “It’s my first foray into politics and it was not a pleasant one for a lot of reasons.”
The property tax is a 1.325 mill levy through 2038, with the levy dropping to 0.9 thereafter.
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A mill represents one-tenth of one cent of the assessed value of a property.
The passage of 6A means the owner of a residence with an assessed value of $500,000 will pay $47.70 toward the fire district.
“I think our community and the people in our fire district recognize the good that our fire department does,” Balentine said. “And our board takes their financial duties very seriously.”
The extra funds will help the district pay for firefighter housing and buy new fire trucks and emergency equipment. The money also will be used to hire additional paid staff and establish an emergency disaster fund.
“One reason why our mill levy has been so low is because of all of the volunteers we have on the fire force,” Balentine said.
Next up for the fire district is ironing out the details on housing and other expenditures.
“We really need to delve into more outreach, more input from the public on what they want to see in the form of housing,” Balentine said.
The fire district plans to build 12 to 14 apartment units and town homes on its land by its North Forty satellite station.
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Tuesday is election day in Basalt. A new mayor will be elected and three council seats filled. Town officials are urging residents not to wait until the last day to cast their ballots.