Basalt fire, sanitation district questions approved
November 7, 2015
Midvalley voters overwhelmingly approved the Basalt and Rural Fire Protection District's issuing of debt and renewing a property tax to pay it off in Tuesday's election.
The measure won 1,189 to 606 in an unofficial final tally in Eagle County. The preliminary tally in Pitkin County as of 10:30 p.m. was 477 in support and 242 opposed.
Combined, the vote was 1,666 to 848, or a margin of 66 percent to 34 percent.
The Basalt Sanitation District's request to keep grant revenue without having to adjust income from other sources, such as taxes, also was ahead by a comfortable margin as of 10:30 p.m. The measure was winning 515-80 in the combined tally of qualified voters in Pitkin and Eagle counties. That is a margin of 86.5 percent to 13.5 percent.
In the fire district vote, the district asked voters to approve an increase in debt by $3.9 million with a repayment cost not to exceed $6.8 million. It will be repaid in 20 years via a property tax.
While the ballot wording made it sound like the district was seeking a new property tax, district officials went to great lengths to explain that it was a continuation of an existing property tax that was set to expire. Voters approved a bond issuance and property tax 20 years ago. Those bonds are being paid off this year. The net result is no new tax.
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"We're not raising taxes. It's just a continuation of a bond we passed 20 years ago," Basalt Fire Chief Scott Thompson said during the campaign.
The new debt will help the district acquire additional affordable housing, remodel the stations in Basalt and El Jebel and acquire equipment. Thompson said the remodeling is needed at the Basalt station to make it so staff can be stationed there. Currently there are some housing units but no place for workers to congregate.
The district also plans to close a deal on the purchase of two affordable-housing units that will be built at Willits Town Center.
A third use of the new debt will be buying equipment that the district says it cannot afford in its general operations budget. That could include a ladder truck and a water pumper, both used for firefighting.