Craig Rural Fire District board elections Tuesday

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Fire board elections generally don't elicit the same degree of public interest as City Council or county commission races.

But members of the Craig Rural Fire Protection District say the elections are just as important.

"The firefighters are here to fight the fires, and the board is here to run the district," said Vicky Slaight, administrative assistant for the district.

The board oversees the budget for Craig/Fire Rescue.

The 5,000 registered voters within the 180-square-mile district will elect four board members Tuesday.

Voters can cast a ballot at the fire station, 419 Yampa Ave., between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

The department receives about $430,000 a year from its mill levy. The district asked voters for a 1-mill increase in the last two spring elections, but voters rejected the proposals.

This year, the district isn't asking for added funding.

Tuesday's ballot only addresses candidates for the fire board.

There are four open seats on the five-member board in this election. Bob Pluym will keep his seat.

Incumbents Don Musgrove, Alan Weber and John Whinery are seeking another term.

Archie Albaugh, John Forgay and Tony Maneotis are seeking their first terms on the board.

Because of staggered terms, the public typically vote for three positions in the election.

But the resignation of Byron Willems left an additional vacancy. Willems resigned in August after the board discovered that district by-laws don't allow active firefighters to sit on the board.

The board appointed Weber as Willems' replacement, but he will have to be elected by the voters to serve a full term.

Board members serve four-year terms, and there are no term limits. Members elected this week will be sworn in May 18.

Tom Cotton, who has served two terms on the board, is leaving after his position.

The biggest issue facing the board in the future will be funding, Cotton said.

Whether the board will ask for another mill levy and whether voters will approve it is hard to determine, Cotton said.

"It's truly hard to say about people in Craig," Cotton said.

But at some point, the board will have to consider ways to increase funding to replace aging equipment, he said.

"Realistically, it's going to have to happen sooner or later, that's the bottom line," Cotton said. "You're going to hit a point where you're not going to have anything that's reliable."

Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or bjohansson@craigdailypress.com.

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