SHFAD Budget Committee approves 2.6% budget increase

Sean C. Morgan

The Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District Budget Committee last week approved an increase of about 2.6 percent in General Fund expenditures for fiscal 2020-21.

Committee members met May 19 to consider the proposed budget. With their approval, the budget moves to the district Board of Directors for a public hearing and adoption on June 16.

The district’s General Fund will grow about 5 percent, with the district carrying over $1.1 million, about $80,000 more than it did last year and about $90,000 more in property taxes for total revenue of $3.6 million, up from $3.4 million.

Total expenditures increase from about $3 million to $3.1 million. The budgeted ending fund balance, which is not spent and is carried over into the following year, increases from $400,000 to $500,000.

Personnel expenses will increase from $1.85 million to $1.92 million. Materials and services decrease from $454,000 to $443,000. Capital outlays fall from $123,500 to $43,000.

The General Fund will transfer out $458,000, up from $354,000, to equipment reserves, grant programs and operating contingency. Among those, the grant transfers, essentially matching funds for grants, increases from $99,000 to $208,000, while the equipment reserve transfer falls from $105,000 to $50,000.

With the end of 2016 bond projects and purchases, the district’s Equipment and Building Reserve Fund falls from $500,000 to $140,000 next year.

“Our current bond will be coming to a close this budget year,” said Fire Chief Dave Barringer in his budget message. “Discussion around another bond may be on the agenda in the next coming budget year.”

The reserve fund has $90,000 in its beginning fund balance for next year, Barringer said. The General Fund will transfer $50,000 to reserves for a total of $140,000. The district proposes using the funds to purchase a type VI engine.

The four-door, four-wheel drive vehicle carries a wildland pump and 300-gallon tank, Barringer said. It will work in district, around the state and out of state as needed, with a three-person crew.

The district sent three persons to California in a two-door type VI last year, Barringer said. While all three fit in the cab, it was tight and not optimal.

“Securing a type VI engine will greatly benefit our department as well as the crews that respond,” he said.

The district also proposes purchasing new fire hoses and five new sets of turnouts, Barringer said. The district will build a “lean-to” at the Foster Station to cover a vehicle, and it will also have new siding and a fence. Crawfordsville Station will receive new siding, signage and a fence.

The district will increase the amount of in-house training available for its 68 volunteers, part-time and full-time staff, Barringer said. Specifically, the district proposes to add rope rescue training.

“We have found the cost and time requirements to be an obstacle when recruiting personnel to take on this rescue discipline,” Barringer said. “By conducting the training course ourselves, we can spread the time out so that members with day jobs can more easily make the training commitment while keeping costs low and customizing the curriculum to our department’s standards.”

Additionally, the district is planning to expand ongoing medic training, he said.

The department is proposing to increase spending in its special fund for grants from $391,000 to $500,000. The fund pays for two day-time firefighters, with a $155,000 match this year. The department is seeking an additional $97,500 grant for another position next year, with a match requirement of $32,500.

At the Fire Hall, the main station, the district is completing its bond-funded remodel of the sleeping quarters and beginning work on a new shop building, which will provide hose and equipment storage and serve as a place to complete vehicle repairs.

Inside the General Fund, the Administrative Division will increase from $1.8 million to $1.9 million, with nearly $50,000 in personnel expenses, the increase in the unappropriated ending fund balance and a $50,000 increase in the operating contingency.

The Ambulance Division Division budget falls from $131,000 to $80,000. The division pays for ambulance volunteers, supplies and training. The bulk of the reduction is in capital expenses.

The Emergency Services Division budget falls from $1.4 million to $1.39 million, including a $14,000 increase to $1.11 million for personnel expenses and a reduction in capital expenses, from $63,000 to $34,000.

Budget Committee members present were Kevin Strong, MIchelle Rowton-Gregory, Rob Younger, Ron Sipe, Dawn Mitchell, Tim Geil, Don Hopkins, Larry Johnson and Charlene Adams. Marty Mealue was absent.