Steamboat Springs Dave Moss wasn't too surprised Tuesday night when 75 percent of North Routt County voters voted "yes" on Referendum 5A, an annual property tax increase for the North Routt Fire Protection District.
"I feel like we've got a pretty good rapport with the homeowners up here," said Moss, president of the North Routt Fire Protection District's Board of Directors. "We've got a lot of voter support for the fire district because they want us around.
"I just want to thank the voters for supporting the volunteers - they're the ones that do the work up here."
Moss should know. He's seen the district's calls grow in the past seven years to what he estimates will now be 100 or more calls a year.
"We just had three calls last week," Moss said.
On a personal level, Moss is fully aware of the importance of the district - composed of about 15 core volunteers and one paid, full-time chief, Bob Reilley - for responding to everything from medical calls to fire emergencies. It was district volunteers who answered three years ago to Moss' own emergency pulmonary embolism.
"It's about our volunteers and the fact that they're out supporting our friends and our neighbors, the ones who do the work of the fire district," Moss said.
Moss said that because of a 2001 bond issue and some recent grants, the district was in good shape in terms of facilities and equipment, but it needed funds to attract and retain the fire district's biggest asset - its personnel.
The approved mill levy rate put before North Routt property owners - and renters living within the district boundaries - will generate about $102,000 for the district, 60 percent of which will go toward Reilley's salary and benefits. Reilley makes less than $65,000 a year, paid out of the district's reserve funds. The remainder will go toward enhancing volunteer benefits.
Fire district treasurer Fred Wolf estimated the mill levy increase will cost the average North Routt homeowner about $1.85 per $100,000 of assessed value.