LETTER: An alternative to raising fire taxes
My name is Gary Mc Elwee, and I am running for the board of directors of the Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District on the May 6 ballot.
I care about Carbondale Fire but do not like the direction the department has gone the past few years. I feel as though the current board of directors is out of touch with the taxpayers they were elected to represent.
At a time when the rest of us have had to make hard economic choices due to the recession, Carbondale Fire has steadily increased revenue and expenses for the past nine years.
In 2011 the board asked for and got a 2.233 mill levy increase with a two-year sunset. When this 2.233 levy was due to expire at the end of last year, the board then asked for another increase of 3.902 mills on last November’s ballot to be added to the existing increase, bringing the new rate to 12.038 mills in perpetuity. Had it not been voted down, that would have been a 100 percent increase in the mill levy rate from 2010.
What was the fire district going to do to decrease expenses since the 2011 levy increase, knowing that property values would be lower thus significantly reducing tax dollars to the district?
I read in a recent newspaper interview that we can again expect the question for a mill levy increase, with some sort of sunset clause, as early as this November. There has been no explanation of district finances from the board to help us make an informed decision warranting any mill levy increase. A tax increase should be a last resort after taking a hard look at the budget and asking what can be done to reduce expenses before asking the taxpayers for more money. Fire departments all across the country have had to do this because of the recession.
Our current board has not come up with the solutions to balance quality emergency services with reduced revenues. I believe it is time for new people to step up to effect change.
I believe I can better represent the taxpayers of the Carbondale Fire District and bring better fiscal responsibility to the organization while still maintaining the quality of services the people of this district have a right to expect.
I would appreciate your consideration and vote.
Gary Mc Elwee
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