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Voting to maintain service

Ballots delivered as Colorado River Fire Rescue seeks increase in existing property tax to help fund fire district

Fire Fighters with Colorado RIver Fire Rescue hit the fully engulfed structure fire with a heavy dose of water on Railroad Avenue in Rifle last year. CRFR is asking voters to approve a mill levy to help the special fire district to maintain the current staffing.

With under two weeks until the election deadline, all registered voters in the Colorado River Fire Protection District should have their ballots for the May 5 election to increase property taxes to help support CRFR’s emergency service to the communities of Rifle, Silt and New Castle.

The mill levy, which is the first in 16 years for Silt and New Castle voters and 25 years for Rifle, is asking for an increase of 6.099 mills to the current 6.102, The increase would add $3.64 per month per $100,000 of the home’s actual value, bringing in nearly $4.72 million in the first fiscal year.

CRFR Chief Randy Callahan said he knows the communities and residents are going through a tough time with the statewide shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At this point we are legislatively bound, the date to withdraw has passed. We are committed to moving forward, and excited to get a community voice on the service level direction for CRFR,” Callahan said.

The fire district formed in 2012 with the merging of Burning Mountains Fire Protection District and Rifle Fire Protection District and continues to serve 25,275 residents, 15,339 homes, 850 multi-family dwellings and 1,665 commercial buildings over the 851 square miles of the district.

Callahan said calls are down currently with the stay at home order, but preparation and planning is through the roof, as the pandemic changes rules for daily operation, and the crews continue to innovate ways to keep themselves and the community safe.

“Although calls are down, our service times may be similar because we are taking more precautionary actions both in the response and decontamination afterwards,” Callahan said.

FINDING NEW WAYS TO COMMUNICATE

For Shirley Starr, community outreach chairman for Citizens for Colorado River Fire Rescue, getting the word out about the upcoming election has been the hardest part.

“My job is to try and get the word out to community members, and we can’t have public meetings now that we are shut down because of COVID-19 issues,” Starr said.

Starr who lives outside of Silt, realizes it’s hard to get people to want to pay more taxes as she is trying to bring more public awareness to the issue.

“It affects everybody, and the fire district is such a necessary part of our community. These men and women live and work here, they do so much to benefit the community.”

kmills@postindependent.com


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