Fire district in final stages of ’04 budget approval |

Fire district in final stages of ’04 budget approval

Jeremy Browning

The Craig Rural Fire Protection District is on the verge of approving its 2004 budget, which will fund another year of fire fighting and rescue services provided by Craig Fire/Rescue.

The district’s board of directors likely will vote to approve the $474,000 budget at its Dec. 18 meeting, said board member John Whinery.

The overwhelming majority of the budget, about $417,000 will come from the special property tax collected from businesses and homeowners in the fire department’s district.

Residents inside the district pay approximately $20 to $35 a year in fire district property taxes. In return, the fire department does not charge district residents for services it may render. Those outside the district may pay $2,000 to $3,000 for a fire call, depending on the severity of the fire, said Fire Chief Roy Mason.

Some residents have been confused about their status, thinking they lived within the district, Whinery said.

The district describes its boundaries by referring to locations on highways surrounding Craig. The district’s northern boundary is the sawmill on Highway 13. The southern end lies at Hamilton. East of Craig, the district stops at the rest area on Highway 40 west of Hayden. The western boundary is just past the Western Knolls Subdivision.

Although described by these four cardinal points, the district is not a square, Mason said.

While most people probably are aware if they pay the fire district tax, residents with questions about their coverage can call the Craig Rural Fire Protection District to inquire about their property.

The district encourages residents near the boundaries to petition the district for inclusion, Mason said.

Eight or 10 such property owners joined the district in 2003, according to Whinery.

The property tax is calculated based on the fire district’s mill levy and the assessed value of the property.

The county finds the taxable value of a property by multiplying the assessed value by a percentage. The residential multiplier is 7.96 percent, while the commercial multiplier is 29 percent, according to Suzanne Brinks, the Moffat County Assessor.

The mill is then multiplied against the taxable value to arrive at the figure taxpayers see when they receive their special district tax statement.

The fire district’s mill levy is 1.997. In the metric system, “mill” correlates to thousandths. A millimeter is a thousandth of a meter and a milligram is a thousandth of a gram. A mill levy of 1.997 equates to a multiplier of just less than two-thousandths (.001997). The final step in the special district tax calculation is to multiply the taxable value by the mill levy Ã: in the fire district’s case, this means multiplying by .001997. It’s about two-tenths of one percent of the taxable value of the property.

“We have probably one of the lowest mill levies in the state, by far,” said Tom Cotton, chairman of the fire protection district.

The district’s largest taxpayer, by an enormous margin, is the Craig Station Power Plant. The power plant pays approximately 60 percent of the fire district’s budget, Whinery said.

Without the power plant, the fire department would not be able to operate as it currently does, Whinery said.

“We’re their primary responder,” Whinery said. “We can respond to them in ten minutes or less and be very effective.”

Some of next year’s budget expenditures are items meant to improve the Craig Fire/Rescue’s response to unique emergencies that may occur at the power plant.

Employees working on one of the numerous high places at the power plant represent “our biggest exposure problem as far as falls go,” Mason said.

“Since they are the breadwinner in our (district), we definitely have to make sure we train for their facilities,” Whinery said.

Mason said he’s hoping to get a grant to buy some “shoring equipment” Ã: jacks and other supplies to lift rubblefrom victims of serious industrial accidents.

Ice rescue equipment also is on Mason’s wish list. The chief said he’s afraid the community is on “borrowed time,” because of the numerous water hazards in the district.

“We’re working to shore up our rescue-type equipment,” Mason said.

Jeremy Browning can be reached at 824-7031 or

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