Palisade rural district needs a revenue boost

Generating adequate revenue for a fire district is typically a difficult proposition, especially when that revenue comes almost exclusively from property taxes.

But the Palisade Rural Fire District faces a unique revenue calamity in coming months. With the closure of Xcel Energy’s Cameo Power Plant at the end of this year, the fire district will lose an estimated 40 percent of its annual tax revenue, about $50,000, district officials say.

That’s a major reason why voters in the rural fire district should approve Referred Measure 5A on this year’s election ballot. It will raise the mill levy in the district by 3 mills, not quite doubling the levy, and increasing property taxes for a home valued at $200,000 approximately $48 a year.

The Palisade Rural Fire District provides fire protection and ambulance service to roughly 500 homes, from Rapid Creek west to 35.3 Road, in unincorporated Mesa County. The district does not include any part of East Orchard Mesa.

The district has no fire equipment or staff, but contracts with the town of Palisade to provide fire protection and ambulance service.

The town is in the process of constructing a new fire station as part of the town’s community center project, and the rural fire district is responsible for half the cost of the project — about $750,000 for the first phase.

Without the mill levy increase, the rural district won’t be able to fulfill this commitment.

Raising any tax rate in the current economy is difficult. But the proposal for the Palisade Rural Fire District involves a small increase to deal with very unusual circumstances.

People who reside in the fire district should vote “Yes” on Referred Question 5A.



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