Fire inclusion math doesn’t add up

Guest column by Doug Clark, former mayor of Littleton
Posted 10/8/18

This election is about money: millions of dollars of fire department assets the city will be giving away and the additional tax you will be paying — if you vote “yes.” This election is not …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

Don't have an ID?


Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.

Non-subscribers

Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

If you made a voluntary contribution of $25 or more in Nov. 2017-2018, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access Includes access to all websites


Our print publications are advertiser supported. For those wishing to access our content online, we have implemented a small charge so we may continue to provide our valued readers and community with unique, high quality local content. Thank you for supporting your local newspaper.

Fire inclusion math doesn’t add up

Posted

This election is about money: millions of dollars of fire department assets the city will be giving away and the additional tax you will be paying — if you vote “yes.”

This election is not about the level of service, the speed of the fire department, or which organization will be supplying fire protection service to Littleton. That decision has already been made. South Metro Fire Rescue (SMFR) will start supplying fire service to Littleton on Jan. 1, 2019, regardless of the outcome of the election.

If you vote “no” the city will receive fire service under contract from SMFR. If you vote “yes” the contract will be canceled and the city will be included in the SMFR District. The service is the same either way.

The difference is money. If you vote “no” the city will pay the cost of the fire contract and your taxes will not go up. If you vote “yes” the city will give away more than $10 million in fire assets to SMFR, a new layer of government will be added to Littleton, and that new government (SMFR) will impose a new tax for fire service. Essentially transferring the cost of the fire department out of the city’s budget and into your wallet.

To scare you into voting “yes” the city and Mayor Brinkman say the city will cut services, like police, public works, and the museum and library, if the election fails. Yet the Littleton Report in June 2018 claimed contracting with SMFR results in “long-term savings compared to existing service,” but a city financial analysis in 2017 showed that contracting with SMFR costs less than what the city has been spending to run its own fire department.

That financial analysis, presented to the city council on March 21, 2017, translated the cost of Littleton running its own fire department into a property tax mill levy equivalent. The report concluded paying SMFR the dollar equivalent of 9.25 mills was cheaper than mill equivalent Littleton spent for fire in 2014 (10.74 mills), 2015 (10.32 mills ), 2016 (10.64 mills ) and 2017 (10.41 mills).

So what happened between the Littleton Report of June 2018 and now? Why would the city now claim it will have to make cuts if you don’t vote “yes”? The obvious answer is the city wants a “dedicated revenue stream” (meaning you) to pay for fire, so it doesn’t have to.

The carrot Mayor Brinkman proposes is if, and only if, you take on the cost of fire the city will spend more for roads. But why should we have to pay a new fire tax to get the city to address roads? The city is holding an unrestricted net position of $80 million it can use to meet ongoing obligations to citizens and creditors. It took in $13.6 million more than it spent in 2017, and $13.8 million more than it spent in 2016. Roads are certainly an ongoing obligation to the citizens. As is fire. Use the surplus.

This election isn’t about fire service. It is about money.

Vote NO on 7B.

For more information see www.WeAreAlreadyPaying.com.

Doug Clark is a former Littleton mayor and city council member.

Comments

Our Papers

Ad blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.