North Routt fire district seeks tax increase to aid new station | SteamboatToday.com

North Routt fire district seeks tax increase to aid new station

— The board of the North Routt Fire Protection District will ask its voters Nov. 6 to approve a property-tax increase to support up to $1.25 million in bonds to help build and equip a new fire station near Steamboat Lake.

The entire project, including a new fire truck and ambulance, is expected to cost close to $2 million.

Terry Hunt, who owns a large home on the north side of Steamboat Lake, has tentatively agreed to donate 5 acres of land and $250,000 in cash toward construction of the new fire station, board officials said. The district also anticipates a total of $325,000 in grants to help with the project and will devote $90,000 in cash to the construction.

Board Treasurer Fred Wolf reminded county commissioners Monday the population of the district is growing and the growth is concentrated 15 miles away from the current fire station near Clark.

“When we built the first station 30 years ago, that was the center of population for North Routt,” Wolf said. “Our combined call volume for fire and ambulance has grown from 20 calls a year to almost 100 calls each of the last two years, and the call volume is in the Steamboat Lake area.”

Board President Chuck Vale said an increasing number of the volunteer firefighters also live close to Steamboat Lake.

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The North Routt Fire Protection District has 700-plus registered voters. The ballot request is for residents to approve an additional 3.1 mills of property tax, more than doubling the existing 2.95 mills.

Vale pointed out this is the district’s first request for a tax increase in the 20 years since the district was created in 1981. The tax increase would amount to $75 on $250,000 of residential valuation, Wolf said.

Wolf said the district’s aging fire trucks are struggling to make it up Willow Creek Pass from Clark within adequate response times. The district owns two fire trucks, one of them 29 years old and the other 51 years old. The newest ambulance is 10 years old and the other is 27 years old. None of the current equipment is equipped with four-wheel drive.

The district does not plan to close the existing fire station. Routt County has agreed to fund $150,000 of the cost of the project in exchange for the right to store county road equipment, including a snowplow in winter, at the new fire station. The new fire station would be located about 500 yards beyond the second intersection of County Road 129 and C.R. 62. It would be on the left-hand side of C.R. 129, not far from the Steamboat Lake State Park headquarters.

Wolf predicted many North Routt residents would see their homeowners’ insurance rates go down when the new fire station brings them within five miles of emergency response.

Vale said the district has received 150 responses to a survey about the bond issue, with more than 90 percent of those respondents indicating support.