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Fire Chiefs in El Paso County asking for development fire protection fees

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EL PASO COUNTY -

Chiefs from multiple fire districts in El Paso County are proposing a fire protection fee on new development. They are asking county commissioners to okay the fee to help them offset what they say are the increasing costs of providing emergency services.

The requests are coming from fire districts in towns where there is a lot of population growth. One of them is the Tri-Lakes/Monument Fire Protection District. "It's just about the ability for fire districts to be recognized as an agency that's also affected by the growth, and we need to have some way of offsetting our expenses for handling that,” said Chris Truty, Tri-Lakes/Monument Fire Chief.

School districts charge development fees to make sure there is room for new kids. Streets departments charge fees for the resources to build and maintain new roads. But in recent years, there have been questions whether fire departments can ask for fees. Last year the state legislature clarified they can, but there needs to be approval from local cities and counties. So far, El Paso County commissioners are saying they need more information.

"We do need good fire protection service in these developments, or we won't sell houses," said Marla Novak, Director of Government Affairs for the Housing and Building Association. HBA leaders need to support emergency services, but they also need to be cost conscious -- fees are often passed on to buyers. "For every thousand of cost that's added to the price of a home, there are about 350 homeowners that can no longer afford that home," Novak said.

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