Fire District taxes on the rise |

Fire District taxes on the rise

Sarah Moffitt Of The Record Staff

The Park City Fire District will increase its property tax rate for 2011 to maintain its current revenue levels since an assessment by the Summit County Assessor’s office deemed property values have decreased this year.

The amount each homeowner will be taxed for the fire district’s services will increase from $102 in 2010 to $116 in 2011 per $100,000 appraised property value.

According to Park City Fire District’s accountant Bill Pyper, the fire district’s tax rate fluctuates yearly to match the assessed property values so the income for the district remains roughly the same.

"Revenue this year is sufficient to cover all the expenses," said Pyper. "There have been years it hasn’t been in the past."

The fire district’s biggest expense is personnel, including salary and benefits for 89 full time employees. Pyper said the fire district is also financing a new station being built on Bitner Road.

"This was the first tax rate increase in a few years, and the increase can be seen throughout the state," said Pyper.

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According to 2010 State of Utah audit report; the fire district’s revenue from property taxes/fee-in-lieu taxes for 2010 was $12,660,058, a $1,480,676 increase from 2009 despite no tax increase. According to the fire district’s 2010 yearly incident report, the district responded to 20 fewer incidents in 2010 than in 2009.

Salt Lake Valley Fire Service Area, which serves the unincorporated areas of the Salt Lake County, Herriman and Riverton, is similar in structure to the Park City Fire District according to Salt Lake Fire clerk Ryan Perry. They also increased their property tax rate from $197 in 2010 to $202 in 2011 per $100,000 appraised property value. The first increase they have had in two years.

By comparison, Salt Lake Valley Fire served approximately 230,000 residents in 2010 and had a total revenue of approximately $25,000,000 according to Perry. Park City Fire District served approximately 32,000 residents in 2010 and had a total revenue of $14,836,194.

Park City Fire District Chief Paul Hewitt said the higher per capita fire fighting costs are due in part to the nearly four million visitors that come to town each year.

"They don’t provide money to the fire district but they use our emergency services," said Hewitt. "When you cover a resort town, you have to invest in equipment to cover the expensive property and hard-to-reach high rises. With the addition of the Montage and St. Regis in Deer Valley, we had to purchase aerial trucks to adequately protect them."

Hewitt also added that the large land area that the fire district must cover, 110 square miles, isn’t factored in when looking at the amount of residents and total revenue.

Of the 5,157 incidents the Park City Fire District responded to in 2010, 66 percent were emergency medical service calls, 14 percent were alarms and 13 percent were good intent calls which range from cat in a tree to ‘I have fallen and can’t get up’.