Roaring Fork Fire board determines how to spend funds by ‘what’s best for all areas’
Snowmass, Basalt districts share resources, each have reps on authority board
A few years ago, the Snowmass-Wildcat Fire Protection District and the Basalt and Rural Fire Protection District joined up to form the Roaring Fork Fire Rescue Authority.
The two districts now share funding and staffing resources across a coverage area that includes Basalt, Snowmass Village and the surrounding areas. Each district has its own five-member board of directors; three representatives from the Snowmass-Wildcat board and three from the Basalt and Rural board form the six-member Roaring Fork Fire Rescue Authority board.
Now, the Snowmass-Wildcat Fire Protection District board faces its first contested election in 16 years. Two incumbents, William Boineau and Elizabeth Striegler, and two newcomers, Greg Balko and Scott Arthur, are vying for three seats on that board.
The deadline to request an absentee ballot (email Susan Herwick at email@example.com) is 4:30 p.m. Tuesday; voters can also cast their ballot in person on May 3 at the Snowmass Village fire station (5275 Owl Creek Road, Snowmass Village).
Two other special districts — the Aspen Fire Protection District and the Aspen Valley Hospital District — are conducting mail ballot elections this year; eligible voters receive a ballot by mail and should return it by May 3. Both the Aspen fire station and Aspen Valley Hospital will have people on site on Election Day to assist voters as needed.
Balko and Arthur have expressed concerns with the Roaring Fork Fire Rescue Authority’s allocation of finances and staffing and how it has impacted Snowmass Village.
Property taxes in both districts support operations across the entire Roaring Fork Fire Rescue Authority, and the Roaring Fork Fire board of directors “determine(s) what’s best for all areas,” Roaring Fork Fire Chief Scott Thompson said in an interview.
The Snowmass-Wildcat district has a lower mill rate of 6.601 mills; Basalt’s mill rate is 7.85 mills, according to budget documents. Higher overall property values in the Snowmass-Wildcat district has historically yielded a larger dollar amount in property tax contributions than Basalt, but that is set to change in 2022 due to growth happening downvalley, according to Thompson.
In 2019, Snowmass contributed $3.26 million and Basalt contributed $2.72 million, according to the 2020 Roaring Fork Fire budget filed Jan. 3, 2020. In 2020, Snowmass contributed about $3.52 million and Basalt contributed about $3.23 million in tax revenue, according to the 2022 budget for Roaring Fork Fire Rescue filed on Dec. 7, 2021.
That 2022 budget indicated that in 2021, Snowmass would contribute about $3.2 million and Basalt would contribute about $3.18 million.
This year, Basalt is set to surpass Snowmass in dollar amount of property tax contributions. In 2022, Snowmass contributions are budgeted to total $3.4 million and Basalt contributions are budgeted to total $3.5 million, according to the 2022 budget.
Those contributions all go to Roaring Fork Fire Rescue coffers, along with revenue that’s restricted to certain purposes and other sources of income like donations and grants.
Again, the Roaring Fork Fire Rescue board determines how that revenue is allocated across the Basalt and Snowmass districts; revenue that came in from Snowmass property taxes is not earmarked for Snowmass operational expenses.
However, “not all funds from each district go to (the Roaring Fork Fire Rescue Authority),” Thompson wrote in an email. “There are still legal fees, audit fees, retirement accounts and bond issues that are still funded by both districts.”
Editor’s note: This story is the first of two articles explaining the allocation of resources within the Roaring Fork Fire Rescue Authority. The second will run Wednesday in the Snowmass Sun.
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