We would like to take this opportunity to correct some misinformation circulating in our community in relation to the Moab Valley Fire Protection District. Transparency is important to us, and our door is always open to constituents who would like to discuss how the District is operated.
In 2021, after going through proper public noticing and hearing, the District’s Board of Commissioners voted to institute a tax increase for the District beginning in 2022. This increase was the first increase by the District in 8 years. The approved increase was 61.89% above the previous year’s tax revenue and amounted to an additional $392,405.00 in revenue for our annual budget. Over the previous 5 years, the District’s tax rate on constituents’ tax bills had steadily fallen from .000547 in 2016 to .000382 in 2021. The approved tax increase set a tax rate of .000543 which brought the tax rate back near the rate in 2016. The increase amounts to an additional $3.31 per month for a residential property valued at $305,000.00.
The Fire District has been active in utilizing funds other than tax revenue for its operations. Station 3 on Beeman Lane was funded by impact fees which are fees paid by new development. The District is currently pursuing the use of impact fees for other allowed expenses such as equipment and infrastructure. The District has also utilized funds made available by the Community Impact Board (CIB). Station 1 located on 100 East was funded by a low-interest loan from CIB, and CIB recently awarded the District a combination grant and low-interest loan to assist in the purchase of an engine that will replace some of our aging equipment. The District continues to find grant opportunities to fund its operations.
By State statute, Grand County is required to provide fire protection services to areas outside established Fire Protection Districts. Grand County currently chooses to contract with the Moab Fire Department to meet this obligation. Grand County has other avenues for providing this service, including creating a separate Special Service District. The avenue being discussed most recently is for the Moab Fire Department to expand its District boundaries. There are advantages and disadvantages to expansion, and after 2 years of research and due diligence, the Commissioners have chosen to further pursue the route of expansion. This decision was made in 2021 and the District has contracted with Pathway Associates to assist in the process.
Expansion brings additional tax revenue from new sources, but it also brings added expenses. For example, Moab Fire will absorb the Thompson Fire Department along with all expenses for that Department. Also with expansion, Moab Fire has to be prepared to be fully engaged in incidents taking place at the same time and spread across our County. This requires an increase in resources and thus, an increase in expenses.
Moab Fire’s priority in considering expansion is to ensure the level of fire protection within our current District boundaries is not negatively impacted. Moab Fire is primarily a volunteer department, and expansion could necessitate a shift toward paid firefighters. Moab Fire Department currently saves taxpayers money by functioning as best as possible as a volunteer department. Our volunteer firefighters are extraordinary, and we are extremely grateful that these members of our community with other full-time jobs, families and the struggles of making ends meet will drop everything at a moment’s notice to protect our community.
We urge anyone with questions or concerns about the Moab Fire Department to contact us.
Chief TJ Brewer
and the administrative staff of Moab Valley Fire Protection District