In other action...
During its regular monthly meeting, the Craig Rural Fire Protection District Board:
• Approved, 5-0, Aug. 16 meeting minutes.
• Approved, 4-0, fire department bills in the amount of $16,455.48.
• Approved, 5-0, a $2,136.07 purchase from WEBstaurant for training room tables.
• Approved, 5-0, a $1,230 purchase from Staples for training room chairs.
• Approved, 5-0, a $12,734.31 bid from MaxFire for fleet maintenance.
• Approved, 5-0, first reading of the 2013 proposed budget.
• Heard Engine 1 replacement presentation.
• Heard fire tower project update.
• Heard reports from Battalion Chief KC Hume.
— Fire board president Byron Willems recused himself from voting on department bills
“According to our auditors, which are certified by (the Governmental Accounting Standards Board) and all the rules by the State of Colorado, we have a definition of capital according to state statutes. A capital purchase is anything over $1,000 with a lifespan of over a year.”
— Chris Nichols, Craig Rural Fire Protection District Board secretary/treasurer, about the legality of the fire tower project
Craig’s soon to be delivered five-story training tower once again took center stage Thursday during the Craig Rural Fire Protection District Board meeting.
During audience comments members of the Craig community were invited to say their peace about the structure and received some surprising answers from board members.
Craig resident, and Craig Daily Press contributor, Al Cashion stepped forward first armed with ballot language from the 1.5 mill levy increase that was passed by voters in 2006.
“Chris (Nichols) you mentioned earlier that you are setting aside the 1.5 mill levy for capital improvements and that is not on that mill levy vote from 2006,” he said. “You cannot make ‘all such tax revenue to be credited to the district’s general fund for operating expenses, including fire acquisition and maintenance of firefighting equipment’ say capital improvements, which is exactly what the fire tower is. It’s real property.”
Cashion said he voted for the mill levy increase and, although he doesn’t plan to file formal charges, contends one could make a case that the fire board falsified language on a ballot issue.
Nichols addressed both arguments by saying the tower is perfectly legal.
“According to our auditors, which are certified by (the Governmental Accounting Standards Board) and all the rules by the State of Colorado, we have a definition of capital according to state statutes,” Nichols said. “A capital purchase is anything over $1,000 with a lifespan of over a year.”
Cashion was unaware of such a definition and asked why that language had never been communicated to the public.
“If you worked with the people, instead of at them, we might be having a different conversation right now,” Cashion said. “That may come back to bite you in the butt because the people feel like you lied to us.”
Rick Barnes took the floor next.
Though Barnes is a candidate for Moffat County Commission in District 2 in the upcoming November general election, he said he attended Thursday’s meeting as a resident.
He asked the fire board to explain the fire tower’s necessity when there is one 17 miles down the road in Hayden. He also asked, if the Hayden tower is not up to standards, why the fire board didn’t consider allocating some money to renovate it and save some taxpayer money for more reasonable equipment purchases.
Fire board president Byron Willems fielded the latter explaining it is against the law to spend taxpayer funds outside of the fire district.
Matt Beckett, Craig Fire/Rescue training officer, addressed Barnes’ questions regarding the tower’s necessity.
“We are able to access Hayden’s whenever possible, unfortunately they are not (National Fire Protection Association) compliant,” he said. “There are certain things you just can’t reproduce (such as), forcing a door or ventilating a roof. Those props are not available at the Hayden structure, plus they have a limited burn room. Once you’ve been through Hayden twice, you know it by heart.”
Cashion conceded the point, but jumped back into the conversation asking why the department couldn’t get the same level of training from a structure three or four stories tall.
“That’s a great point, but we didn’t pick five stories, the City of Craig did,” Willems said. “(The height limit on new developments) was three stories until the City of Craig amended its codes (more than two years ago) permitting the construction of five-story buildings.
“So we need to be prepared to fight fires at five stories.”
Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.