LETTER: City, rural department fire mill levies not necessarily equal
Recent reporting is that both the city and rural fire departments might propose an equal property tax increase. Sounds fair —both increases of 2 mills.
It depends what “equal” is. The city refers to a new mill levy of 2 mills for the city fire department while the rural fire department is already at 6.339 mills and would increase to 8.339 mills. The individual’s tax responsibility for the two mills stays the dollar value while the total revenue for the city versus the rural district for the 2 mill increase based on the valuation of each district would be much larger.
The article states that Glenwood Springs sales tax supports a portion of the Glenwood Springs Fire Department budget. What portion of the sales tax revenue is contributed to Glenwood by tourists and, yes, even by the so-called rural resident? If you are seeking equity for each resident’s financial support for fire protection, then no sales tax revenue should be considered as the city resident’s portion of their financial responsibility when comparing it with direct property taxes paid by the rural residents.
Concerning the wording of a potential ballot, the article states, “We did decide to keep the questions in both the city and the district similar, so it’s easier for taxpayers to understand.” What would really be easy for the taxpayer to understand, as far as financial equity, is if the city could tell us what similar-valued homes, one in the city and one in the rural area, would pay in taxes for fire protection.
The only possible way that this question could be answered is if the two districts merged. This merger has been discussed about as long as the bridge discussion. By combining districts, the total valuation goes up and the mill levy likely would come down.
It seems like the city message is coming through loud and clear. Who is representing the rural residents?
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