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Fire district election: four seats in the balance

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By Vicky Gits

Seven candidates are running in the regular election for the four available seats on the board of directors of the Evergreen Fire Protection District. The board consists of five regular members.

The only incumbent who is not up for re-election is Jaine Hamilton, whose four-year term expires in 2010.

Five people are running for two available four-year terms, while two are running unopposed for the two, two-year terms.

Running for four-year terms are: Jeff Ashford, Kenny Erhardt, Charles Dykeman, Lloyd See and George Kling. George Goldbach and Jeff deDisse are running for the two-year terms.

Polling places will be set up on Election Day May 6 at the district headquarters on Bergen Parkway and at Wulf Recreation Center on Olive Road adjacent to Evergreen High School. Hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Mail-in ballots are available by calling the district at 303-674-3145.

Jeff Ashford

volunteer assistant chief, fire investigator, human resources consultant, firefighter representative to the initial Organizational Effectiveness Team, Organizational Leadership Team and handbook committee

Have you ever worked for a paid or volunteer fire department, in what capacity and for how long?

I have had no firefighter experience prior to joining Evergreen Volunteer Fire. I am now in my 11th year as a volunteer firefighter.

Do you think the fire district is financially responsible? If not, why, and what areas should be examined?

Being fiscally conservative and a believer in lean organizations, it does not seem the time to be increasing cost overhead when we see our economy struggling. The trend has been to mirror large metropolitan fire departments, and with that comes more levels, and that is not needed. Should we not expect flat or falling tax revenues in our future from falling home prices? Do we believe that the costs of doing business will be less in the next few years? Even if our future revenues are flat, fixed expenses will be increasing, and where will those monies come from? We owe it to ourselves to see the future.

What would you change, if anything, about the organizational structure or operation of the fire department?

The basic principle of any organization should be to support the tasks done at the lowest level. An analogy would be “Boots on the Ground”; this includes firefighters, medics and dispatchers. Organizations require some overhead structure; however, it needs to be sized and valued to what happens each day. On an average, we run five to six calls per day.

Charles ‘Chick’ Dykeman

current board member and president of board of directors of the Evergreen Fire Protection District. Appointed April 2007 to fill vacant position.

Have you ever worked for a paid or volunteer fire department, in what capacity and for how long?

No. I have, however, served as a political consultant to many paid and volunteer fire departments during the past 30 years, and my recommendations were well received and implemented. As a former successful business owner who has served the public in many capacities and met payrolls, I'm committed to the same sound financial practices as it relates to the district. I've successfully met payrolls, and that is the type of experience I have brought to the board as president.

Do you think the fire district is financially responsible? If not, why and what areas should be examined?

This question seems to question the fiscal responsibility of the board and its decisions. The annual independent audit indicated the district's financial management conformed to sound accounting practices, and there were no footnotes of exception concerning the district's accounting for and management of the public's funds. The 2008 budget of $4.2 million has expenditures of 71.1 percent and transfer to reserves of 19 percent. Any budget needs constant review and updating to reflect any changes.

What would you change, if anything, about the organizational structure or operation of the fire department?

After careful thought, consultation and consideration of sound management practices, the Table of Organization has just been updated and approved by the current board as submitted by Chief DeJong. Any table needs constant review by all parties involved.

Jeff deDisse

fire district board member, elected in November recall election to replace David Klaus; field superintendent for W.L. Contractors

Have you ever worked for a paid or volunteer fire department, in what capacity and for how long?

Has been a volunteer for Evergreen Fire/Rescue for 10 years, including eight years as captain and eight as an investigator.

Do you think the fire district is financially responsible? If not, why, and what areas should be examined?

I think they have been responsible with their money. I think there have been some unforeseen expenses. There’s a ton of things you can’t budget for. It’s important to look at the economy and whether the taxable values are increasing or decreasing in the next five years.

What would you change, if anything, about the organizational structure or operation of the fire department?

At this time I am pleased to say that after all the turmoil that has happened in the last year, it is very much running smoothly and no big problems.

Kenny Erhardt

volunteer firefighter for 24 years in many positions, including vice president, deputy chief and rescue training officer; owner Kittredge Auto Rebuilders

Have you ever worked for a paid or volunteer fire department, in what capacity and for how long?

I have been involved with volunteer fire services for 29 years. I started at 16 years old in Poland, Ohio, for five years. The last 24 years, I've been with Evergreen Fire/Rescue and will retire in May of 2008. I've held various positions, from vice president of the volunteers to deputy chief.

Do you think the fire district is financially responsible? If not, why, and what areas should be examined?

For the 24 years I've been with the EVFD, the EFPD has been financially responsible. Whether finances were for training, equipment or facilities, the board stayed on top of the budgets it set.

What would you change, if anything, about the organizational structure or operation of the fire department?

At this time I would not change anything. We must have the neighborhood response operating at its optimum potential for the 129 square miles of district. If the service starts to deteriorate, I would not hesitate to invest in research for alternatives new or otherwise.

George Goldbach

current member of the board of directors, elected in recall election in November to replace Phil Shanley; consultant

Have you ever worked for a paid or volunteer fire department, in what capacity and for how long?

New York City Fire Department, 1960 to 1980, firefighter, driver, lieutenant; King Khalid Military City Fire Department, 1980 to 1981; chief training officer for various volunteer departments in Colorado: West Metro Fire Rescue, 1995 to 2002; South Metro Fire Training Academy, Castlewood, Englewood, Littleton, Lakewood/Bancroft fire department, 1991 to1995, director.

Do you think the fire district is financially responsible? If not, why and what areas should be examined?

I do think that the district is financially responsible under the makeup of the present board of directors.

What would you change, if anything, about the organizational structure or operation of the fire department?

At present the organizational structure is functioning as it was intended to do. If, in the future, the chief or the board feels that a change is necessary, I am sure we will do so.

George Kling

airline pilot; one of four founding members of BEST, an organization formed in November 2006 in opposition to fire protection district board’s hiring of former fire chief.

Have you ever worked for a paid or volunteer fire department, in what capacity and for how long?

One year paid and four volunteer: 18 years combined. Recently: Evergreen until 2007; captain, driver-engineer, instructor, incident command facilitator.

Do you think the fire district is financially responsible? If not, why, and what areas should be examined?

I believe the district has been continually improving to strengthen their accounting systems, have stronger forecasting tools, and the ability to identify revenues and expenses. A few years ago the district identified the financial challenges that then lay ahead. The electors voted to bridge that revenue and expense gap. I understand the organization currently has budget issues, even though revenues have doubled from $2.1 million in 2004 to $4.2 million in 2008. To be clear, I am proud of all of the lifesaving assets that have been placed in service. However, the manner in which the administrative expenses have grown, out of proportion to services delivered, is of concern. Many of these new expenses have been instituted irresponsibly, in my opinion. The purpose of the district is to mitigate disasters, with continued exceptional service and minimal bureaucracy.

What would you change, if anything, about the organizational structure or operation of the fire department?

The structure is fine; it is what the citizens, firefighters, employees and district board have crafted. Recently the organization has been under strain. I would like to devote my efforts to focusing on operational excellence through organizational unity.

Lloyd See

district board member since 1994

Have you ever worked for a paid or volunteer fire department, in what capacity and for how long?

I started my career in the fire service as a volunteer firefighter for the Evergreen department in 1968 and retired with 20 years’ service in 1996. Evergreen Fire hired me as a part-time administrator and fire prevention inspector from 1973 to 1982. From May 1973 to June 2000, I was a professional firefighter for the West Metro Fire Rescue in Lakewood, residing in the Evergreen area all but six of those years. After serving 26 years on the department, I retired as fire marshal and assistant chief.

Do you think the fire district is financially responsible? If not, why, and what areas should be examined?

The Evergreen fire district is financially responsible and has always taken its responsibilities seriously, with great pride in the department. The annual budgets have been a “joint effort” of the chief, the department staff and the volunteer members. Guidelines followed are those of the Colorado Revised Statutes, allowing only voter-approved spending for the district.

What would you change, if anything, about the organizational structure or operation of the fire department?

NO! We have a great volunteer organization and a great fire department. Presently, there are no major changes needed. Our services are second to no other department in Colorado and, in my estimation, hard to surpass.