Fire district election to be held May 8


The Pagosa Fire Protection District (PFPD) will be holding a mail-ballot election on May 8.

During that election, the PFPD will be requesting a mill levy increase from voters.

Currently, the PFPD’s mill levy is set at 4.067 mills, with .5 mills going to the PFPD’s volunteer pension fund.

A press release from Kenny Rogers, who is coordinating the mill levy campaign for the PFPD, reads, “The ballot issue will be asking for a mill levy increase to 7.85. The 7.85 figure will give us just over $2 million in taxes.”

The press release goes on to explain that $129,045 of that sum would go directly to its volunteer pension fund.

“That would mean an increase in taxes to an owner of a home with a market value of $100,000 of an additionally $2.27 a month,” reads the press release. “That adds up to $27.24 a year.”

The release explains that the PFPD hopes to increase its staffing in order to have a quicker response time to incidents, and that 10 full-time positions would be added.

“The proposed positions are seven firefighters, one fire captain, one mechanic, and one fire division chief/training,” reads the press release.

The release adds that another priority would be to develop a “comprehensive replacement schedule” for the PFPD’s capital items, such as stations, vehicles and equipment.

Another priority for the PFPD is to develop a contingency reserve in the event of a large emergency within the district.

At one point, the PFPD Board of Directors discussed the idea that perhaps the majority of the public already perceives that the PFPD has fully paid staff available 24/7.

In a previous interview with SUN staff, PFPD Chief Randy Larson pointed out that the PFPD is still a department that heavily relies on volunteers.

He explained that the PFPD utilizes paid staff from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, but any other responses to calls are handled by one paid staff member on call and volunteers.

This means that, if a call comes in at 3 a.m., volunteers must wake up, travel to the PFPD, retrieve gear and vehicles, and then respond to the incident, which can impact response time, he explained.

Larson stated that one of his biggest goals is to have paid staff covering the district constantly, instead of just during business hours.

“By putting on paid crew and having them stationed here 24 hours a day, seven days a week, we can look at quicker response times,” Larson said. “Our turnout times to out the door will decrease significantly.”

Larson also pointed out that the PFPD wouldn’t be replacing volunteers, either.

“This department will always need volunteers. The size of our district and the amount of area we cover, to be able to try and fully staff a department for this size, we’d be looking in the $10 to $12 million range, and that’s just not going to happen,” Larson said. “Our volunteers are our core, and they’ll always be our core. They’re the most important part of this department. We’re trying to supplement the volunteers with a quick-response paid staff.”

Three different seats are also open on the PFPD board, with three individuals all running for those seats.

John Daffron, Jason Webb and John Thompson are all nominated for four-year terms.

Webb and Thompson both currently serve on the PFPD Board of Directors.

In an email to SUN staff, PFPD Executive Administrative Assistant Shirley Brinkmann explained via email that an “eligible elector for a special district election is a person who is registered to vote in the State of Colorado AND IS EITHER:

“• A resident within the special district; or

“• The owner of taxable real or personal property situated within the special district boundaries. A natural person who is obligated to pay taxes under a contract to purchase taxable property situated within the boundaries of the special district is considered an owner. The owner must be a natural person, not a corporation, trust, partnership, etc; or

“• The spouse or civil union partner of the owner of taxable real or personal property situated within the special district boundaries.”

Ballots were mailed to eligible electors on April 23.

If you believe you should have gotten a ballot but haven’t, contact Brinkmann at 731-4191 to check if you are registered to vote.

After that has been verified, ballots can be picked up at Station 1 for the PFPD, located at 191 N. Pagosa Blvd.