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Elk Creek Fire Protection District to go for mill levy increase
While the fire board decided last Thursday that it would hold an election, it will have a special meeting on Aug. 22 to finalize ballot language. It’s planning to ask for just over 5 mills, which would bring the district’s total mill rate to about 12 mills. This would result in an additional $12 a month in property taxes for a home valued at $400,000.
“We think that’s a reasonable request. The money needs to not only get us back where we were but ensure that as things grow in the next five years, we can meet requirements,” said Gary Barrett, treasurer of the Elk Creek Fire board.
If passed, additional funds from the mill levy increase would be earmarked for several things, including:
• Replacing two paid firefighter paramedics.
• Purchasing two new ambulances.
• Renovating a station to include new volunteer sleeping quarters.
It last passed a mill levy increase in 2013, but hadn’t increased property taxes prior to that since the fire department’s inception in 1948, according to Chief Bill McLaughlin. “Since that mill levy passed in 2013 over 50 percent of that additional funding was taken away essentially by the Gallagher Amendment,” McLaughlin said.
Should voters accept the proposal in November, the language approved last week allows Elk Creek to use the additional money to:
• Ensure adequate volunteer and career staffing to meet increasing call volume and community expectations.
• Restore the level of fire and emergency medical services to meet community needs.
• Provide funding for fire stations, equipment and water supply capabilities needed to protect the community.
• Continue to provide wildfire prevention, mitigation and slash disposal.
• Provide adequate numbers of paramedics and ambulances for increasing calls and multiple calls within the fire district and neighboring areas.
McLaughlin said that, among other things, money will go toward revitalizing some of the department’s stations, purchasing new water cisterns and restoring the ones Elk Creek already has.
“Water supply is actually probably going to be the first thing we work on,” he said.