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What will the Timberline FPD Inclusion Election mean?

Public Forum for Residents and Board Meeting

by Pam Deck

Timberline FPD hosted a public forum for residents on May 15. Chief Paul Ondr explained the need for this upcoming inclusion election. Currently, Timberline covers approximately 125 square miles in both Gilpin and Boulder County. The inclusion model would extend its boundaries to 173 square miles, though there’s nothing “square” about its shape, which covers south of Nederland to the north of Idaho Springs. It surrounds the city limits of Black Hawk and Central City and includes some of the most scenic mountain areas in all of Colorado.  The proposed boundary would extend to include an area nicknamed “No Man’s Land” (between Central City, Apex, and the Tolland area) and give those residents adequate, legal fire protection. If it does not get approval, those property owners will remain without formal fire protection and besides being unsafe, makes it difficult to get insurance. There was much discussion of the benefits to inclusion. Currently, much of Gilpin County just does not have fire coverage. That is why the Gilpin County Commissioners unanimously support it. Commissioner Gail Watson was in attendance Monday evening.

Chief Ondr gave a brief historical overview and said reasons are unknown why some residents have coverage and others do not. Even within the District, some were “excluded” which made fire protection difficult to sustain. “This inclusion is a step in the right direction.” Previously some residents could Petition for Inclusion and pay a fee of $300. If this election passes, there will no longer be a need for petitions or fees, and everyone will be included. Ondr wants the best service for everyone. He put to rest some of the rumors and misinformation: They will not be doing code enforcement, with the exception of commercial property. They are not in a financial crisis, nor will any of the current District residents pay more. It is just that now everyone will be required to pay their fair share.

What will that fair share be for those living in Tax area 10 and 25? According to Jennifer Hinderman, Timberline’s Business Manager, at the current mil of 8.342 for a home that is assessed an actual value of $100,000, it would be approximately $66 a year. The market value of that same home is likely much more, but “taxable value” is what the 8.342 would be figured on. She used a real example for me of a house that has an actual assessed value of $183,600, where the tax for fire protection would be $110.53 for the whole year.

Timberline has nine Fire Stations, eight of which are active. Timberline is run by one part-time chief, three volunteer assistant chiefs, four resident firefighters, and more than 50 well-trained volunteer firefighters. Twenty of these are EMT certified, most of the others are First Responders, and several are Paramedics. Chief Ondr is also proud of his equipment. They have four Rosenbauer engines and two Rosenbauer tenders that carry the water. They have numerous ATVs and plows. “I believe we have some of the most rugged fire apparatus in the whole state of Colorado.”

They work closely with the neighboring fire departments, especially Black Hawk and Central City Fire Departments. What’s the difference between a Fire Department and a Fire District? A Fire Department is usually within a City or County Boundary and are fully funded by their respective government. Fire Districts serve rural or unincorporated areas and are funded by a Special District tax. They are often run by volunteers. Our fire departments and districts work together to keep our homes as safe as possible. They have IGAs (Inter-governmental-agreements) with over 40 fire departments, ready to work tirelessly whenever the need arises.

Timberline serves over 4,500 residents. In the summer, that number explodes to 15,000-20,000. The Chief and firefighters care about every one of them.

This important election will be Tuesday, June 13, 2017. It will be held at Fire Station 3, 660 Highway 46. Absentee ballots are also available online at www.timberlinefire.com or you can call Jennifer at 303-582-5768.

Board Meeting

The meeting was called to order at 7:20 pm by President Chip Smith. Present were three board members, Chief Paul Ondr, and Business Manager, Jennifer Hinderman.

Approval was made of last meeting minutes from April 10.

In a public comment, John, a citizen, had a suggestion about the 36 hours of training required and he will forward these to the Board President.

The treasurer’s report showed that they were operating within their budget. The financial statement from January 1 to April 30, 2017 was distributed. The only expenses that were higher than expected were a truck repair, and the utilities at a few stations.

There was a lengthy discussion about an incident with a large propane tank that had rolled into a creek and leaked. The valve was missing which was an error on the part of the propane company. The County may address the concern of where these large tanks get placed so they do not become an environmental risk.

Gilpin Ambulance Service is donating several of their old, but gently used “bunkers.” Chief said these will be helpful and will welcome the donations.  The coats and clothing’s labels can be changed making them usable to Timberline.

Mark Williams, newly hired as the TFPD Training Coordinator, gave an over-view of his many responsibilities. He is tracking more than 3,000 man-hours of recent training. He credits the department as being proactive in current trainings and is developing a system to monitor and communicate this better to the public.

Williams also invited the public to attend an upcoming free event on June 17. It will be at the Gilpin County Rec Center from 9-12. It is sponsored by CSU extension. It is titled “Structural Mitigation” and will help homeowners learn how to make their home and landscape safer. Interested people are welcome to contact him at 303-582-5768.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:15 pm.

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