The Orland Fire Protection District is predicting higher costs in 2014 over the current fiscal year, due to costs to offset training for 11 new firefighters recently sworn in, as well as insurance premiums going up and incentives for older firefighters to retiree.
Orland Fire is projecting $30,234,000 in revenue and $30,526,000 in expenses. The $292,000 deficit that is predicted will be made up through money in the district’s fund balance, according to Orland Fire Finance Director Kerry Sullivan. The 2013 budget called for $29,035,294 in projected expenditures and $29,931,000 in expected revenue.
“For the proposed budget, a majority of the district’s expenses is wages and benefits, about 88 percent,” Sullivan said during the district’s budget meeting on Oct. 8. “It went up about 1 percent from 87 percent last year.”
While trustees are still proposing changes to what will be the final budget for 2014, there is a predicted tax levy increase of about 1.6 percent.
The effect on property taxes is expected to be an additional $5 for every $100,000 assessed, according to Sullivan.
With the proposed tax levy increase, the district is still looking to give a tax abatement of about $1.3 million.
“There are areas where we could come under where we don’t have to take out of the fund balance,” said Orland Fire Chief Ken Brucki during the budget meeting. “ (Orland Fire Trustee) Chris (Evoy) said it was important to stay on a path to offer as much relief as we can for tax payers.”
Overtime to maintaining coverage while training 11 new firefighters, who were recently sworn into the district, is a major contributor to the higher costs, Brucki said.
“They’ll take three to six classes in the next year,” Brucki said. “We’ll have to replace them when they go to school. We knew that’d come.”
Overtime cost about $1.9 million in 2012. So far in 2013, overtime has cost the district about $400,000.
Another cost expectation is that firefighters with 20 years and over in experience will get an incentive for retiring early to help clear way for younger firefighters hired at lower pay rates, Brucki said. But costs such as a 10 percent increase in insurance premiums the district can cover without the added tax money, Brucki said.
“We were able to manage all of those large dollar amounts and still say relatively flat at about a 1.6 percent increase,” Brucki said during the budget meeting. “Chris (Evoy) gave strict guidelines, and it forced us to sit back down and control this. We did everything we could to limit the impact.”
The initial budget is expected to be put out for public display by Friday, and a public hearing for the budget will be held at the Nov. 19 meeting.
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