Village revisiting wildfire protection fees for inaccessible lots

By Ellen Miller-Goins

Village of Angel FireDuring its July 28 meeting, the Angel Fire Village Council deferred voting on revising the Wildfire Protection Fee billing rate and method for all inaccessible lots owned by Angel Fire Resort and few others.

The proposal – that inaccessible lots be billed as one large at $13 per month – was delayed when councilor Brinn Colenda proposed an amendment requiring Angel Fire Resort, the largest owner of such unimproved lots, to develop a “Risk Reduction Plan that addresses the risk reduction priorities of the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP)…” to “be presented to the Village Fire Chief/Forester for approval.”

The village does not currently have a forester on staff, however, according to Rick Tafoya, village manager, one “is a budgeted position.”

Resolution 2015-33, which council will discuss and potentially vote on during the Tuesday (Aug. 25) meeting, 5:30 p.m., at Village Hall, does not include the Risk Reduction Plan, but it does include the language that “undeveloped, uninhabited and undeveloped lots” will be billed as “one single ‘large’ lot” at $13 per month “as long as… each or any such platted lot therein remains undeveloped, uninhabited, and inaccessible… and to further grant a credit [or refund] for past payments of such fees….”

If the village uses documentation supplied in a letter from Lynn Heafey, chief financial officer and director of membership for Angel Fire Resort, to Tafoya and Joe Canepa, village attorney, such refunds to the resort could total $59,775.

When the Angel Fire Village Council unanimously approved the assessment of a monthly wildfire protection fee in July 2013, the plan was to use the revenue from the wildfire protection fee to implement a Community Wildfire Protection Plan through which the village would dispose of slash, launch an education campaign, install evacuation-route signs, compile a list of consultants and tree-thinning companies, inspect and certify thinned lots, identify properties that are out of compliance with wildfire-prevention requirements, and establish an on-call crew to carry out thinning prescriptions on delinquent properties.

According to Tafoya, the current plan is to use Wildfire Protection fees to purchase a grapple truck and loader truck to be used for the efficient disposal of slash village wide. Additionally the funds would help fund 50 percent of two part or full-time positions: a grapple truck driver and a chipper.

“The other 50 percent comes out of solid waste,” Tafoya told The Chronicle.