Fire district announces elections

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Three people are running for two seats on the board of directors for the Steamboat Springs Rural Fire Protection District.

The election is Tuesday.

The Oak Creek Fire Protection District is the only other district in the county holding an election Tuesday.

Oak Creek Fire and Rescue secretary Tina Holliday said the election will be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Oak Creek Town Hall on Nancy Crawford Boulevard. Eligible voters must reside in the Oak Creek Fire Protection District or must be Colorado residents who own property within the district's boundaries.

Holliday said Kenneth Burgess, Bernard Knott, James Eskridge and Eric Storebo are running for three positions: two four-year terms and one two-year term. The other board members are Ken DePaul and Chris Zuschlag.

The West Routt Fire Protection District canceled its election because there were three people running for three positions. Board members David Funk, Susan Bunn and Doug Zirkle have been re-elected to the board of directors. The Yampa Fire Protection District canceled its election because there were two people running for two positions. Board members Mark Meade and Tam Roberts have been re-elected to the board of directors.

The North Routt Fire Protection District canceled its election because two people were running for two positions. Larry Gulley and Jean Urban were elected to the board of directors.

District Vice President Ben Beall said Robert Kuusinen, Noreen McMahon and Clifford Heltzel are running for the two four-year terms. The board of directors is made up of five elected directors. Kuusinen is president of the board.

Beall said residents who live within the district and residents of Colorado who own property in the district are eligible to vote. Registered voters will be able to vote from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Christian Heritage School, 27285 Brandon Circle, west of Steamboat Springs.

The Steamboat Springs Rural Fire Protection District covers 470 square miles surrounding the city of Steamboat Springs and protects Milner, Steamboat II, Heritage Park, Mad Creek, Silver Spur, the lower Elk River, Elk River Estates, Deer Mountain Estates, Strawberry Park, the South Valley, Catamount, Pleasant Valley, Blacktail Mountain, Yellow Jacket Pass, the Big Valley, Whitecotton, Whitewood and south of Steamboat to Twenty-mile Park.

"It's like a doughnut with a hole in the middle," he said.

Beall said the Fire Protection District is not the same thing as Steamboat Springs Fire and Rescue, though Steamboat Springs Fire and Rescue is contracted to cover the rural fire protection district with fire and ambulance services.

"It's important for the people who live in (the rural fire protection district) to understand how these services are provided to them," he said. "That's why we have this election."

For nearly 20 years the Steamboat Springs Rural Fire Protection District and Steam-boat Springs Fire Department operated as two departments providing services to two areas.

"They've always been two separate entities. One was managed by the city, and one was managed by a board of directors," Beall said.

That changed in 2000, when the Steamboat Springs Fire Department became Steamboat Springs Fire and Rescue, assuming management of the fire department and ambulance services.

Through an intergovernmental agreement, the Steamboat Springs Rural Fire Protection District pays the city to provide services to the areas covered by the special district. Through the contract, the Steamboat Springs Rural Fire Protection District funds 30 percent of Steamboat Springs Fire and Rescue's cost of operations and 33 percent of its capital expenses. The rural protection district raises its revenues through a mill levy.

In 2005, the district raised $680,000 and had a reserve of $720,000.

Beall said the biggest issues the board will face the next two years include managing the contract between the city and the rural protection district; ensuring adequate staffing levels and equipment for Steamboat Springs Fire and Rescue to provide the necessary services in the district; finding a location for and constructing an additional fire station west of the Steamboat area; and reinstating a ballot question for 2008 allowing the district to continue collecting property taxes for the district's expenses.

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