Colo. city using marijuana excise tax to fund new fire station
Pueblo West Fire Chief Brian Caserta requested the use of up to $90,000 of the excise tax funds from marijuana sales tax to help fund an $180,000 design plan
The Pueblo Chieftain, Colo.
PUEBLO WEST, Colo. — The design plans for a new fire station and a new state law that could fund its construction were the focus of the Pueblo West Metro District board meeting Tuesday.
Because the fire department was unsuccessful in obtaining a $100,000 Colorado Department of Local Affairs grant that would have helped fund design and engineering costs for the fire district's station two, Pueblo West Fire Chief Brian Caserta requested the board allow the use of up to $90,000 of the excise tax funds from marijuana sales tax to help fund an $180,000 design plan.
The district already has a main fire station and Fire Station Three and is planning for a smaller Fire Station Two at the corner of West McCulloch South and Industrial. It would be staffed by four firefighters, Caserta said.
"I don't want to see this drop off the radar. We are really going to push the deadline of the end of the year to narrow down the cost of construction," Caserta said.
District Manager Nina Vetter agreed that the use of the excise tax would be a good idea to avoid pushing off the design for another year.
Director Doug Proal addressed Caserta, pointing out, "The idea of fire protection is important to me, don't get me wrong, but $180,000 seems like a lot of money to me."
He suggested looking at existing fire station plans and revamping them to keep costs down.
"Out of respect for the west side of Pueblo West they are entitled to that protection," said Terri Zupan board president.
Proal did agree that the project needs to move forward.
"Then, we are going to have to decide how we are going to fund it and how we are going to staff it," Proal said.
The board unanimously agreed to allocate up to $90,000 from the excise tax fund for the design and engineering of fire station two, with the use of station one plans to see if they can be modified.
Assistant District Manager Harley Gifford told the board that the Metropolitan District Fire Protection sales tax bill was signed into law March 21.
"Some residents have asked is we are simply going to levy the tax - the answer is no - we are required to take it to a vote and it has to be during a November election," Gifford said.
Paving the way for districts such as Pueblo West the authority to levy a sales tax, at a rate determined by the board, for the purpose of funding safety protection such as fire protection.
Pueblo West resident Gordon Carlton said he, "Perceives there will be a big problem getting people to support this with a sales tax. The failure of road tax indicates the district has a credibility problem,"
"The budget is as lean as it could so coming up with $2 million for the purpose of building a new fire station is going to be. This will be just a tool to ask residents if they are willing to support a sales tax going to this," Gifford said.
©2019 The Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, Colo.)