Fire district votes to keep term limits

Voters in the Hermosa Cliff Fire Protection District shot down a proposal to end term limits for the board of directors.

Ballot Question 5A failed with 180 voters saying “no” and 159 voters saying “yes” – or 53 percent of the total saying “no,” according to unofficial numbers.

Bill Webbe, president of the Hermosa Cliff board, said he was perplexed by voters’ unwillingness to end term limits.

“I don’t understand it,” he said. “I’m confused.”

Few residents are interested in serving on the board, he said, so it made sense to allow existing board members who are willing to serve to continue serving.

Additionally, if no one petitions to run for the board, the district could save money by not holding elections, he said.

District voters have twice declined to lower their property taxes by consolidating the fire district, which is part of the Durango Fire & Rescue Authority, a consolidation of three regional fire districts. In that regard, it’s not surprising voters declined to end term limits, Webbe said.

“Every time we’ve had a referendum up there to reduce the mill levy, which reduces the taxes, they’ve voted it down,” he said. “I don’t think they understand what they’re voting for.

“You can’t fix stupid,” he added.

There was no coordinated opposition to the ballot question.

Hermosa Cliffs encompasses about 35 square miles in the upper Animas Valley, near Tamarron to the San Juan County line.

It has only about 500 voters.

The district collects property taxes for fire protection and passes the revenue on to the DFRA, which has two representatives from Hermosa Cliff.

Board members are allowed to serve a maximum of two consecutive terms.

But no one has voluntarily petitioned to run for the board in 10 years, Webbe said. Instead, current board members have had to recruit residents to serve on the board.

“We try to save money for the constituents, but obviously they don’t want to save money,” Webbe said.