Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Capt. Tom Mace has a pilot's license and owns his own airplane. On Nov. 6 he put the license, the plane and his off-duty time to good use flying over the Tri-Lakes area pulling a banner that reminded people to vote for the district's mill levy increase, ballot question 5C.
Neither the plane, nor the banner and none of the 300 signs and the 11 4x8 foot banners that went up all over the area Tri-Lakes area before the election were paid for with district funds. Members of Monument Professional Firefighters Local 4319 funded these items and 5,000 flyers out of their own pockets and used their own time and resources to educate the public on the needs of a modern fire department and ambulance service.
“In our spare time we talked to homeowners groups, Monument merchants, senior citizens and a lot of other people,” said training officer Mike Keough, who serves on the firefighter local's election committee. “Most of what we did was education. A lot of people thought the district was funded through sales tax revenues and once we showed them that our funding comes from property taxes, it (the ballot question) made more sense to them.”
That dedication paid off at the polls when ballot question 5C was approved overwhelmingly by district voters with a vote of 9,478-5,180. As was explained at a previous district board meeting, the money raised by the mill levy increase will allow the district to finish maintenance projects that were delayed by lack of funds, to upgrade necessary equipment, provide more training and keep Fire Station 2 open for business.
The district can also begin its search for a new chief and leverage the funds so that it can accept a federal grant that would pay salaries for six new firefighters for two years.
District board President Bill Ingram was jubilant about the win. “We are extra appreciative for the community's support,” he said. “We also appreciate all the hard work by local firefighters and we're looking forward to continuing to provide the best support of our communities.”
Keough added that firefighters have put thank you banners up around the community and would have done so even if the ballot question hadn't passed.
“We are a public entity and we will always need the public's support,” he said. “We want the public to be involved in everything we do. I especially encourage people to come to our board meetings.”
Those meetings are at 6:30 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month, with the exceptions of the November and December meetings. These will be on Nov. 14 and Dec. 5.