Fate of Fire District and Other Special Service Districts Focus of City/County Meeting Today
By Kristin Forbis, Sep 14, 2020
A decision is anticipated today on the future of the Fire District and restructuring of other Special Service Districts in Uintah County. During a City/County meeting on August 24th, Uintah County Commissioners proposed that due to a severe decline in mineral lease funds several changes be made to the Special Service Districts. While the Health and Animal Districts would remain intact, the Transportation, Recreation, and Impact Mitigation Districts would be combined while the Fire District would be closed down and those services moved back to the cities and County. The agenda for today’s meeting includes presentations by each of the Special Service District Directors; presentations by Vernal, Naples, and Ballard; a presentation by the Uintah County Commission; and a final decision by the Commission. Since the August 24th meeting, there has been a strong reaction to the County’s proposal shared online and during other planning meetings, in particular, an uprising of those against the abolishment of the Fire District. Brian Gorum, Chairman of the Fire District, says that the thing that disappoints him is that out of all the Districts, the Fire District is the only one with savings in the bank and no debt. This condition may seem desirable but served as more of a target as a District cannot be dissolved if it has any debt. The Fire District was formed in 2006 and the upgrades to the stations, equipment and firefighters’ training was immense. Gorum says the danger in going back to the way things were before the Fire District was formed would likely be a hit to insurance premiums for those in the outlying areas. It’s also possible the response times will increase, affecting public safety. Gorum explains that a lot of people are upset and believe abolishing the Fire District is the wrong move. In fact, many of the firefighters have even said they would forego their pay if it meant that the Fire District could remain in place. Today’s special City/County meeting is open to the public and is being held at 4:30pm at the Uintah Conference Center.