FALCON FIRE protection district

2018 COMMUNITY PRESENTATIONS & FAQs

The Falcon Fire Protection District is exploring the feasibility of a mill levy increase to fund an ambulance service, shore up staffing needs, and improve services to residents of the fire district. Inspired by comments received on surveys and from Town Hall-style meetings with residents, FFPD has created this page to address some common questions about District operations and this exploratory effort.

 

 Click the image above to see the slides for the Town Hall Meeting presentations. (5 MB)

Why can’t you ask for more money from the county or state?

The Falcon Fire Protection District is funded primarily through property taxes. It does not receive any funding from either El Paso County or the State of Colorado.

An increase of 6.274 mills increase seems like a lot.

If the mill levy were increased from the current 8.612 mills to the proposed 14.886 mills, the estimated tax increase you would pay to the Falcon Fire Protection District is $45.17 per year (or about $3.76 per month) per $100,000 of a residential property’s market value.

Here are some examples of the tax amounts currently paid to Falcon FPD, as well as taxes that would be paid under the proposed mill levy increase.

How are property taxes calculated?

Check the property tax statement you receive from the El Paso County Assessor’s Office to see your home’s Actual Value as determined by the EPC Assessor's Office. You will also see the Assessed Value (the amount on which you pay taxes), and the different taxes you pay (schools, fire district, water district, etc.). You can also view this information online (http://land.elpasoco.com/). You will need to click through to the property tax statement to see the Actual Value.

Please note: The Actual Value and/or Market Value shown by the EPC Assessor's Office may not reflect the amount you can sell your home for, nor the property values listed on real estate websites such as Zillow.com.

Here’s how the tax assessment process works:

1. The El Paso County Assessor’s Office first establishes a property’s "actual value." We’ll use an example of $250,000 as that value.

2. The Assessor then multiplies the Actual Value by the Residential Assessment Rate (RAR) to determine the Assessed Value. The RAR is established at the state level by a constitutional amendment known as the Gallagher Amendment and is currently set at 7.2%.

$250,000 (actual value) X 0.072 (RAR) = $18,000 (assessed value)

3. The mill levy is applied to the Assessed Value to determine what a special district or other taxing authority receives from the taxpayer.

$18,000 (assessed value) X 0.008612 (Falcon FPD current mill levy) = $155.02 (taxes paid to the Falcon FPD)  

How do we know that the fire district won’t be back in a few years asking for more money? 

The Falcon Fire Protection District prides itself on being fiscally responsible. Since the fire district's inception in 1981, it has received only two mill levy increases in 37 years. The last mill levy increase, from 5.7 mills to 8.612 mills, was approved by voters in 2010. FFPD currently has one of the lowest mill levies of any county fire district yet serves one of the fastest-growing areas.   

Will businesses also see an increase in their property taxes if this mill levy is passed and enacted? Or does it just apply to residential properties?

Yes. Businesses/commercial properties fall under the category of Non-Residential Properties and are assessed at 29% of their Actual/Market values.

I keep hearing about the Gallagher Amendment. What is that and how does it affect the fire department? 

In the State of Colorado, the assessment rate for commercial and residential property is determined by the Gallagher Amendment, which became law in 1982. This amendment requires that no more than 45% of all property tax collected in the state can come from Residential Property. The remaining 55% comes from Non-Residential Property. The Gallagher Amendment requires assessment rates to adjust to maintain this 45% / 55% ratio.

Since Gallagher took effect, the Residential Assessment Rate (RAR) has either stayed steady or repeatedly adjusted downward because the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) prevents any tax increase without voter approval. In 1982, the RAR was 21%. Today it is 7.2%, and it is projected to drop again in 2019 to 6.1%. Meanwhile, the Non-Residential Rate has held at 29%.

Even though property values are rising, those increases do not always offset revenue lost due to RAR adjustments mandated by the Gallagher Amendment. Here is a link to a short video that explains how the Gallagher Amendment affects fire protection districts:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXbrsdQQrZ8

Why can't the fire department go back to being an all-volunteer organization to save money? 

In short, returning to an all-volunteer model would increase response times and affect the ability of the department to have sufficient personnel to respond 24/7. It would also be detrimental to the district's Insurance Services Office rating, resulting in higher insurance premiums for homeowners and businesses.

The Falcon Fire Protection District is one of the fastest growing areas of El Paso County. More people means more people needing emergency assistance. FFPD's call volume increased more than 20% between 2016 and 2017, and that growth is expected to continue throughout 2018. The district began to employ paid staff in 2000 when there were not enough volunteers available to respond to emergency calls.

FFPD still relies on volunteers (now called "reservists") to augment full-time and part-time staffing. However, volunteerism across the country is in decline. Locally, many volunteers/reservists move on to paid firefighting jobs which results in a continuous cycle of recruit, train, and replace. The all-volunteer model is no longer effective for ensuring that emergency personnel are available to respond quickly to the needs of our residents.

  

More Q & A Coming Soon…