For nearly a year, Westminster firefighters have been working hard to get Measure 2A on the ballot.
“[It’s] is about providing Westminster firefighters with a seat at the table and voice in the public safety discussion,” says Chad Christian, Westminster firefighter and secretary with local 2889. “It's really been overwhelming. The people of Westminster have really supported our efforts.”
What they say it really boils down to is safety gear and equipment. They want a say in what they’re given to protect themselves and do their job better.
“Nobody knows Westminster streets and people and its challenges like its firefighters do,” Christian said. “We feel like it's in the best interest of this entire community that we have our voices heard.”
And unlike many things, Measure 2A doesn’t come with a price tag.
“2A is a tax-free initiative,” Christian said. “We are not asking for more money. We are not asking for an increase in taxes.”
Bill Christopher is a member of the "Keep Westminster Strong" committee and he’s the former city manager.
His fear is that down the road, Measure 2A will cost the city -- and in turn cost the taxpayer.
“I think it’s inevitable… down the road sometime there would be a proposition to raise taxes,” Christopher said.
That would be possible, as Measure 2A is essentially allowing the firefighter union to be part of collective bargaining -- which Christopher believes would be just the beginning.
“That’s one of our arguments…I would think police would be next - that’s a no brainer and then perhaps after that public works and then parks maintenance,” Christopher said.
What’s being proposed already exists in nearly every major city in the Denver metro area.
“Almost every major fire department, especially those that provide fire and EMS services, operate under some type of collective bargaining agreement,” Christian said. “We don’t feel like there’s anything scary about it, in fact it’s a model that’s used more often than not.”
But those opposed to it say it’s not the right choice for the city of Westminster.
“It may be working in other cities but I just don’t think and our group doesn’t think it’s necessary,” Christopher said. “The budget pie is only so big.”
Christopher and those in the committee believe the solution is just more communication among the firefighters, the chief and the city.
The firefighters fear that even though they have a great relationship with the city manager and chief right now, that down the road, it’s uncertain who will come in and just want to make sure they always have a say when it comes to safety.