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Nov 2, 2011 7:43 PM by Matt Stafford

Fire crews keeping jobs in Black Forest

Looming layoffs won't be the case for the Black Forest Fire Protection District. Voters in the area agreed to increase property taxes to pay for local emergency services.

News 5 was at Black Forest Fire's station one back in August; the weather was much brighter, but the budget was dismal.

"The budget projections were getting to be very tight," says Lt. Kathy Russell. "We were looking at having to possibly lay off six out of our 9 full time firefighter/EMTs."

"That would have substantially hurt our response times and our service to our area."

As the economy dropped in recent years, property values in the Black Forest area dipped too; as did the amount of taxes collected -- hurting the department's budget.

They asked voters to cover $565,000 additionally each year; their first operations tax request in more than 20 years.

"It's never a great time to ask anyone for a tax increase but this year was particularly challenging," says Lt. Russell

More than 1,600 voters said "okay" to the funding.

So Wednesday after the election - on a very gray day - it's the budget that's now showing hope. Black Forest Fire will be able to maintain the same level of services they've been providing.

"The vote that our community gave us means even more to us because we know people had to take a very hard look at their home budgets before they could make the decision to help support our budget," says Lt. Russell.

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