Earlier this year, the Littleton City Council reached an agreement with South Metro Fire Rescue (SMFR) to provide fire services to Littleton starting in 2019. In November, voters will decide whether to include in SMFR’s service area to ensure quality emergency response services and an opportunity for the city to invest in needed street and infrastructure improvements.
Council considered several major reasons for transitioning to SMFR at this time:
• Long-standing partners are moving on: Littleton Fire Rescue’s (LFR) two partners voted to be included in SMFR starting January 2019
• Standalone department is not feasible: LFR cannot exist as a standalone agency without its partners, operationally or financially.
• Opportunity to improve fire services and streets: Joining SMFR opens up possibilities to reallocate city funds to other community needs such as $3.1 million in street and infrastructure improvements While the city council reached an agreement with SMFR, there is still the matter of how to pay for the services. To address this, a question will be on the November 6, 2018 ballot for Littleton residents. A yes vote means that citizens approve increasing their property taxes in order to fully join SMFR. The city will reduce its property tax rate and dedicate the funds formerly used for fire operations to street maintenance, a high-priority need.
• Nov. 2018: SMFR will ask voters to add Littleton to its service area
• Jan. 2020: If voters approve inclusion, SMFR will increase property taxes while the city decreases its property taxes
• Net change for residential properties: +$10.19 per month (based on $370K home value)
• Net change for commercial properties: +$110.88 per month (based on $1M property value) Should voters refuse inclusion and the tax increase, the city will face some financial difficulties as it would need to pay for fire services out of the same fund that covers police, public works, and other essential city services. That approach is not financially sustainable, and would quickly require cuts to those same essential services. Plus, the additional street maintenance projects would be eliminated.
The formal dissolution of the fire partnership revealed that LFR cannot financially operate as a standalone department with at least the same level of service enjoyed in the past. Besides being cost prohibitive, LFR is not equipped to independently provide adequate response times or standard levels of service. The new boundaries that formed when the partners joined SMFR created shared borders allowing for more efficient service. “The city council and staff’s number one priority is to ensure the continuation of quality fire and emergency medical services on January 1, 2019, following the end of the partnership. It is critical to have a seamless transition from Littleton Fire Rescue to South Metro Fire Rescue and the council action allows this to happen,” said Littleton Mayor Debbie Brinkman. Voters will be able to make their voices heard during the election on November 6 to decide if Littleton will be included in South Metro’s service area starting in 2019. Find more information at www.littletongov.org.