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City council to vote on unification of fire services, public hearing set for April 17
Unification will lead to more efficient, higher-quality emergency services and investment in street and infrastructure improvements
The Littleton City Council will formally consider unification of Littleton Fire Rescue (LFR) with South Metro Fire Rescue (SMFR) at its April 17 meeting. A public hearing on the issue will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the council chamber, 2255 West Berry Avenue. Littleton residents are encouraged to attend. This will be the second reading of the Pre-Unification Agreement; first reading passed on a 5-1 vote at the April 3 council meeting.
Littleton Fire Rescue’s partners, the Littleton Fire Protection District and Highlands Ranch Metro District, announced plans in late 2017 to join SMFR beginning in January of 2019. The announcement accelerated two years of negotiation and analysis to determine how to best provide high-quality, financially sustainable fire protection services to Littleton residents.
The formal dissolution of the fire partnership revealed that LFR cannot operate as a standalone department, operationally or financially. Besides being cost prohibitive, LFR is not equipped to independently provide adequate response times or standard levels of service with only three stations.
Careful consideration of several options shows that unification with SMFR provides the highest level of service for the lowest cost. The new boundaries that form when the partners join SMFR create shared borders between the city and SMFR allowing for more efficient service.
“The city council and staff have studied unification with SMFR for almost two years. We and our partners are in strong agreement that joining SMFR will provide the very best fire and emergency medical service for everyone we serve at the most cost-effective price,” said Debbie Brinkman, Littleton Mayor.
Other key decision factors that led the city to consider unification with SMFR include:
- Long-term cost savings compared to existing service
- Improved capacity for response to large-scale or multiple emergencies
- Additional firefighting staff and equipment housed at Littleton stations
- An improved Insurance Services Organization (ISO) rating, which may decrease insurance rates
- Littleton Fire Rescue employees will have the opportunity to retain employment
- SMFR is an internationally accredited fire rescue agency
If the Pre-Unification Agreement is approved by city council on April 17, an election will be held on November 6, 2018 to ask voters to consider including the City of Littleton in the SMFR service area. If voters approve the question, a portion of the property tax assessed by the city would be reduced, and SMFR’s 9.25 mill levy would be applied across the entire city. This would allow Littleton to reallocate an estimated $3.1M to street and infrastructure improvements.
Street maintenance and infrastructure are established community needs. With the $3.1M, the city plans to catch up on years of deferred maintenance and invest in improvements along key corridors such as Mineral Avenue, Santa Fe Drive, and South Broadway.
For more information on the unification proposal, visit the LFR Unification page.