FREMONT COUNTY, Colo. — There are two ballot questions that are local to Fremont County on this year’s 2020 ballot. Both have to do with public safety.
The first one is Fremont County-wide. The second is for west Fremont County, near the town of Cotopaxi.
FREMONT COUNTY — ISSUE 1A – EXTENSION OF 1% SHERIFF’S TAX
In 2013, Fremont County voters approved a sales tax increase to fund important projects in the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office. It was supposed to expire on Dec. 31, 2023. However, the Sheriff said he would like an extension. If this passes there would be an extension of the sales tax continuing until the voters decide to take it away.
The funds would help complete projects such as law enforcement staff, detention center staff, body-worn cameras that are required by the state, and new fixtures in the jail, according to Fremont County Sheriff Allen Cooper.
His budget for 2020 has nearly doubled since the first ballot question passed and he said if it didn’t pass this time, he would lose 47% of his budget and in turn would have to fire a number of deputies.
“So if I’m going look at 47 percent to my budget drastic cuts,” Sheriff Cooper said. “I like the term separating of service it sounds a little softer.”
The current fixtures in the jail are porcelain the goal is to replace them with stainless steel.
“When the inmates break these fixtures they are using the pieces as weapons. This is a safety factor for not only my staff but also other inmates,” Sheriff Cooper added.
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DEER MOUNTAIN FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT — ISSUE 6A – MILL LEVY INCREASE
Deer Mountain Fire Protection District (DMFPD) benefits from the a Milly Levy increase in question 6A.
This would start a Mill Levy increase on homeowners in the area. It’s a proposed an 8 mill increase, which equals a $57 additional annual cost per every $100,000 your home is worth. For example, if your home is $200,000 cost would be $114 which equals about $9.50 per month.
Without this money, if their EMS funds get cut and their aging population; board members worry their response times would increase.
“Our goal, is fire and personal safety if we take those two things away, it puts our community at risk,” said Deer Mountain Fire Protection District Board Vice-Chair Sharon Zuidema.
Additionally the DMFPD, receives funds when they fight wildland fires, however the don’t want to be reliant on those.
“By relying on those fires to generate income, instead of having from tax base; it’s always risky, we may not be able to meet budget,” Zuidema said.
Based on the growth of residential property relative to non-residential property since
2018, Gallagher is expected to drop the residential assessment rate down below 6% in the next reassessment calculation in 2021. The current estimate is 7.15%.
The Gallagher amendment has resulted in Colorado having one of the lowest residential property tax rates of any state, according to Building a Better Colorado. They say this has made the property tax base shift the property tax burden from homeowners to business owners.