Englewood asks voters to approve fire and EMS levy

The City of Englewood is asking residents to pass a fire and EMS levy this November.  MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF
The City of Englewood is asking residents to pass a fire and EMS levy this November. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

ENGLEWOOD — Voters here will cast a ballot Nov. 2 whether to approve an additional 1.65 mills tax levy for the local fire and EMS department that would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $45 extra a year in property taxes.

If approved, the money generated from the Englewood Fire and EMS Levy will go to upgrading equipment like radios and extraction tools, as well as addressing the city’s aging fleet, Englewood Director of Finance Della Stearns said.

The new tax levy, which will cost the owner of a $100,000 home $57.75 a year overall, will generate about $477,000 for the fire department. Stearns said the money would be restricted and can only be used for the Fire and EMS department. The new levy, if approved, will replace an old levy that generated $128,000 a year.

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City officials point out that the new levy will cost voters who own a $100,000 home an extra $3.82 a month.

“Fire and EMS is costing more and more these days,” Stearns said. “It used to be 10 years ago, you could hire part-time firefighters and everyone used the same people ... now the market has gotten, like with everything, if you want to make sure you have somebody who shows up every day, you better hire full time and lock them down.”

In 2019, Englewood hired 17 new firefighters/medics which expanded the department to 27 full-time firefighters. The department also has a number of vehicles in its fleet that need to be replaced. Stearns said that the city works with other fire departments in the area so exactly what will be purchased is still to be determined and will be selected based on need.

But, the department currently has a 1997 ladder truck, a 2000 pumper truck and two 2013 medics. Stearns noted that a ladder truck costs upwards of $1 million and other vehicles cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. She also said the turnaround from the time a city orders a vehicle to actually receiving it takes about a year.

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Stearns said that if voters don’t pass the levy this November, the city would not get the new money and would also lose the money generated by the old levy. She said the city is committed to providing the best fire services no matter the outcome of the election.

“Safety is the most important job the city needs to provide to its residents, so police and fire is not an area that we are looking to cut,” Stearns said. “When someone calls 911 there has to be a medic to go.”

She said however to make up the difference, the cost of other areas of city services may need to be examined.

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