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RE: Mill Levy Reduction Request

By Kiowa County Fire Protection District Board of Directors

December 6, 2023

Dear Governor Polis,

In response to your recent request for all tax districts to lower their tax levy (mill levy), the Kiowa County Fire Protection District feels compelled to provide a factual perspective that reflects the unique challenges we face as a special district in Southeastern Colorado.

Operating within the rural landscape of Southeastern Colorado, our district already operates on a tight budget, akin to a skeleton crew. We diligently manage the funds we receive and strive to minimize any additional burden on our taxpayers. While we acknowledge that a reduction in our tax levy might bring relief to some individuals in our community, we must emphasize the potential trade-offs that such a decision would entail.

A decrease in the funding for our fire protection district would directly impact our ability to maintain, acquire, and equip essential equipment and personnel. These resources are critical to our mission of saving lives and protecting property. Without adequate funding, we would face challenges in providing the necessary training for our firefighters and supplying them with the costly bunker gear required for firefighting among a host of other essential items. Lowering the mill levy won't allow the funding to support a fire district, and that would snowball into the possibility of losing a fire district in total. If that were the case, then these same property owners that would save on property tax would end up spending that same money on higher insurance rates when a fire service call would have to come from another agency 25+ miles away. The ISO rating would not exist in the county, and the same money would be spent but in different areas for these property owners.

Choosing to reduce our mill levy would inadvertently convey to our dedicated firefighters that their safety is not our top priority, but rather an attempt to alleviate a fiscal challenge imposed by your bad policy making and the socialist policies implemented by Democrat leaders in Washington. It is crucial to recognize that the consequences of such a decision extend beyond mere budgetary adjustments; they directly affect our capacity to fulfill our duty to the community.

We cannot overlook the broader context in which this request is made. While we understand the desire for property tax relief, it is essential to address the root causes of the financial challenges faced by districts like ours. We must point out that the issues raised by Colorado Republicans regarding property tax relief were voiced months before the election, urging a special session for proactive measures. Unfortunately, these appeals seemed to fall on deaf ears, as the special session was only called after Proposition HH's inevitable failure.

Governor Polis, the Kiowa County Fire Protection District responds to your request with a resounding "hell no." We believe it is time for accountability and responsible governance. The consequences of political decisions are real, and we implore you to consider the impact of your policies on the everyday lives of the people you serve.

Respectfully,
Kiowa County Fire Protection District Board of Directors
Monte Billheimer
AJ McCracken
Eunice Weber
Branden Dunlap

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