The Orland Fire Protection District administrators are planning to spend about $300,000 less next year than in the current budget year.
District trustees were presented with the first version of a proposed 2013 budget at the Oct. 16 meeting, which included projected expenses of $29,035,000, and estimated revenues of $29,931,000. The 2012 budget, when put out for public view in Nov. 2011, had $29.33 million in expenses and $29.15 million in revenue. How the recent addition of 11 new firefighters would affect estimates for 2013 were among issues discussed at the Oct. 16 meeting. According to both Finance Director Kerry Sullivan and Chief Ken Brucki, the additional firefighters could drop overtime costs from $1.9 million in 2012 to around $400,000 in 2013.
“I think that’s a very conservative figure,” Brucki said. “It might even be less. We have the potential to essentially negate our overtime costs, because our staffing level will be at a higher level than what we have been doing.”
The 11 firefighters hires were approved at the Aug. 28 meeting to fill gaps left by injuries and instances were fire personnel resigned, retired or were leveraged into retirement.
Unlike last year, where department heads presented their financial needs and wishes to the board at three public workshops, the requests were presented before the Oct. 16 meeting.
About $4.8 million had been cut from those requests by Oct. 16, Sullivan said.
But important financial decisions will still have to be agreed upon before the 2013 budget can be firmly established, including upcoming contract negotiations.
District staff estimated that 28 fire personnel would be on staff per shift in 2013, health insurance costs will remain flat and that pension costs would increase by 11 percent under this proposed budget compared to 2012.
The tentative 2013 budget also includes money for capital projects, retiree health care and continuing to fund the district’s vehicle replacement program. Any remaining surplus is scheduled to go toward vehicle replacement.
Orland Fire Board President James Hickey asked if any more consideration was given to offering the district’s 911 dispatch services to neighboring towns, and Brucki said several new contacts were made at a recent conference, where interested was expressed.
Trustee Blair Rhode asked if the surplus would go toward vehicle replacement, then could that dollar amount come up during contract negotiations. Sullivan said it could, but the district can make the case of a need to put that money toward vehicles.
Trustee Glenn Michalek asked what the need was to raise money going toward fire investigation in 2013 over 2012.
“We’ve run 23 fires since I came on in June, and it’s one of the things I ask of the arson guys,” Brucki said.
Trustee Chris Evoy complimented Sullivan and Brucki for their efforts at keeping the budget balanced.
“It took a lot of extra time and effort to keep it within the boundaries we wanted to keep it in,” Evoy said. “Though it’s not the finish product it’s a good effort.”
Trustee Martin McGill did not attend the meeting.
The budget will remain on display until it comes back up for a final vote at the Nov. 27 fire board meeting.
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