Longmont City Council Supports Countywide Wildfire Mitigation and Emergency Services Tax Issues

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During its study session on Tuesday, the Longmont City Council supported two ballot measures related to wildfire mitigation and emergency services that will go before Boulder County voters in November.

In August, Boulder County commissioners voted unanimously to put both sales and use tax questions on the Nov. 8 ballot, as well as a separate sales tax extension on transportation.

If approved, County Issue 1A would impose a 0.10% sales and use tax to fund wildfire mitigation efforts such as strategic forest and grassland management.

The tax is expected to raise $11 million a year and would “reduce the risk of catastrophic fire, protect water supplies and promote ecosystem resilience,” according to the specific wording of the ballot measure.

The wildfire mitigation tax issue will appear on the November ballot less than a year after the Marshall Fire destroyed more than 1,080 homes and killed two people in Boulder County.

“I don’t suppose there’s anyone in the room who would argue that we — based on our climate crisis — are no longer in seasonal fire season,” Boulder County Commissioner Marta Loachamin said Tuesday. , to the Council. “It’s all year round.”

In addition to the wildfire mitigation tax, the county has proposed a 0.10% emergency service sales and use tax, which would decrease to 0.05% after 2027.

A sales tax of 0.10% equals one penny for every $10.

County Issue 1B would help fund new emergency facilities and equipment as well as the operating costs of all-volunteer search and rescue organizations in mountainous and rural areas.

Rocky Mountain Rescue Group, which was founded in 1947 and does not charge fees for its search and rescue services, has continued to see rising costs and service calls.

During Tuesday’s presentation, a wireless radio reportedly cost the nonprofit search and rescue organization $2,000.

With 70 volunteers, Rocky Mountain Rescue Group pays around $140,000 for radios alone.

Loachamin stressed how critical the adoption of Issue 1B is to keep critical search and rescue services free for those who need them.

“If I was personally at a track and was injured, I would think twice about calling for help if I thought for a moment that there would be a high ticket price – and I think we we all probably would,” Loachamine said. “That’s why volunteers insist on not charging for their service, because they understand that this endangers the injured person. »

The Board unanimously seconded both ballots and asked staff to present a resolution of support at a future meeting.

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