Glenwood fire board fills vacant slot |

Glenwood fire board fills vacant slot

A replacement has been named for a Glenwood Springs Rural Fire District Board member who resigned over differences with the city over how to fund the fire department.

Pierre DuBois has been appointed to serve the remainder of Loren Anderson’s term, which ends in May 2008.

Glenwood’s department is funded by city sales taxes and by property taxes paid by those living in the surrounding rural area served by the department. Anderson said most cities in Glenwood’s circumstances fund the departments through a property tax paid by a unified fire district taking in both the city and surrounding rural area.

“Glenwood is in that 5 percent that doesn’t use common sense. They won’t do it that way,” Anderson said. “I could see no hope for getting decent fire protection from Glenwood Springs.”

Early this year, the Insurance Services Office, or ISO, threatened to downgrade the fire department’s insurance rating to the lowest possible. That could have caused some insurance premiums to double or triple, and some policies to be canceled.

ISO backed down after the city and fire board adopted a multi-pronged plan to increase staffing to improve responses to structure fires.

Anderson said the rural fire board had unanimously called for creating a fire district. At a meeting this year, Harlan Porter, then the board’s president, said a special district would result in more stable funding for the department, but he doubted city voters would approve a property tax hike for it.

Glenwood Mayor Bruce Christensen said he also doubts voters would go along with such an idea as a means of paying for a department with a $2 million budget. He also noted that a sales tax tends to be more popular with city voters because it is paid by nonresidents as well.

The sales tax currently covers about three-quarters of the department’s budget.

Anderson said a sales tax would be a good source of funding if it was used to adequately fund the fire department, but instead it goes to things such as the city’s Community Center as well.

Anderson praised the work of Fire Chief Mike Piper under difficult circumstances.

“We have a wonderful fire chief. I can’t say enough good things about him. He has done miracles with practically no support from the city,” Anderson said.

DuBois has lived in the rural fire district since 1997 and is an owner/innkeeper at Sunlight Mountain Inn.

He served 16 years on the Littleton Rural Fire Protection District Board. That district contracts with the city of Littleton for fire protection, in an arrangement like the one in place in Glenwood Springs.

In his letter seeking appointment to the board, DuBois said he hopes to improve service to outlying areas and resolve staffing needs within reasonable budget constraints.

Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516

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