The May 6 letter sent to residents from the Durango Fire Protection District and Durango Fire & Rescue Authority should have been used to discuss the fairness and financial issues of the proposed board consolidation and the two mill levies.
The city of Durango has always claimed that it is cheaper to live in the city compared to outside the city limits. The claim was based on a lower mill levy for fire protection, presumably from the higher density the city has always advocated. However, people who live inside the city limits pay more in taxes because we pay 3 percent for goods registered and delivered inside the city limits (motor vehicles, utilities, building materials, etc.). Presumably this additional 3 percent paid by city residents in part subsidizes the lower fire mill levy and needs to be considered before raising the city fire mill levy. For example: A new $30,000 vehicle purchased every 10 years adds (3 percent x $30,000 = $900) $90 per year and $200 per month for all utilities adds $72 per year to taxes paid by city residents. This is above what residents of the Animas and Hermosa districts pay.
The number of voters in each of the three existing fire districts (City, Animas, Hermosa) and their percentage in the proposed consolidated governance board need to be disclosed. The proposed board should fairly represent residents affected by their decisions.
I also have some questions: Will the proposed board consolidation result in any significant financial savings or merely shift decision making? What is the projected typical insurance premium increase vs. the proposed increase in fire mill levy designed to maintain our current increase?
I hope these fairness and financial issues will be discussed in the Herald and at the May and June fire mill levy meetings. These issues were not addressed during the previous fire mill levy ballot issue that was rejected by the voters.
Ted Keller, Durango