Gunnison council hears fire department update
GUNNISON—During their meeting on Oct. 26, Gunnison City Council discussed the fire district’s proposed county-wide 50 cent fee increase for fire protection and some other possibilities the fire district is considering to help fire departments across the district fund their equipment purchase and maintenance costs.
Gunnison Valley Fire Department Assistant Chief Brian Sorensen attended the meeting to address the council with an update on the fee increase.
The fee increase will be collected throughout the entire county, and the money from it would go directly to the fire district. The fire district would then allocate it to different fire departments across the county based on their need for new equipment or funds for maintenance.
The Community Impact Fund (CIB) had informed the fire district that, due to decreasing mineral royalties that were the source of CIB grant and loan funds, it is unlikely that they would be able to be able to fund the purchase of any more new fire trucks and equipment for the district.
Since the fire departments within the Sanpete Fire District try to keep a 20-year turnaround with trucks, the fee increase is seen as a necessary way to fund the purchase and maintenance of trucks for Gunnison Valley and the other district fire departments.
“After 20 years the maintenance cost just seems to get out of control,” Sorensen said. “That’s why we try to replace the trucks before they get too old.”
Over the past year, the CIB funded the purchase of a number of trucks for departments across the county, Sorensen said. Gunnison was getting a Type-5 “Mini attack truck,” which cost $180,000.
“It’s really going to serve us well,” Sorensen said. “It’s a smaller truck that will allow us to make a faster initial response to fires, especially in more distant areas like Mayfield and Fayette.”
Sorensen told the council the new truck had been built to order and would be ready for them in December. Two members of the Gunnison Valley Fire Department were going to fly to South Dakota, inspect the truck and drive it back home.
Sorensen also told the council that the fire district had been doing some research into a new form of taxing entity that would evaluate fire protection fees based on property value. He said Juab County was currently using this new tax entity concept.
According to Sorensen, the new tax entity concept was not supposed to affect very many property owners in Gunnison, but there were some caveats to its implementation.
If the county adopted the new tax entity, one of the main differences in fire district operation that could be seen is how control of the district would be structured.
Fire chiefs from different fire departments across the county currently run the district on its governing board. The form of tax entity that Juab County has been using would no longer have each city’s fire chiefs controlling the board, but it would also remove the cities from the responsibility of maintaining worker’s comp and liability insurance for the fire departments.
The Sanpete County Fire District plans to see how the alternate tax entity works out for Juab before they make any serious consideration for the change.
Sorenson also reported to the council that the fire district is paying for six Gunnison Valley Firefighters to travel to Alabama in January to receive training and certification as hazmat technicians, a type of training that no fire department member in Gunnison Valley has completed yet.