Monarch Fire Protection District (MFPD) board of directors passed a balanced budget for 2013 last week, which predicts its operating revenue will remain mostly flat, but will still allow for the hiring of two full-time firefighter/paramedics to replace a pair of outgoing employees.
The budget was prepared by MFPD Chief Tom Vineyard, and adopted by the district’s board of directors at a meeting Dec. 5.
Director Kim Evans said the $17 million budget largely resembled the one for 2012. “We were able to keep the tax rates flat from year to year so we essentially have to adopt the same budget with minor exceptions," she said.
On the revenue side, the district is forecasting it will bring in $17,156,200, compared to the $16,933,200 estimated for 2012. Property taxes, the district’s largest source of funding by far are predicted to be the same for 2013 as 2012 at $16,273,700 with the increase coming from building permit fees and out-of-district billings.
The budget includes approximately $140,000 more in spending than last year at $17,125,504 for an approximately $30,000 surplus. Total salary spending is expected to rise $188,051 from last year for a total of $11,174,716 while the amount allocated for capital expenditures will fall slightly from $68,625 in 2012 to $51,000 in 2013.
One Director Votes No
The 2013 budget was passed by a 2-1 vote with directors Kim Harris and Steve Swyers voting yes, and Robin Harris opposing. Harris based his opposition to the budget around the fact that last year the district appointed one full-time, fully trained firefighter/paramedic to be a public education officer.
Harris said the problem is that this individual is then taken off of shift work. He said he had spoken with the public education officer and the individual told Harris he believed he could perform the duties of the role will remaining available for "active duty."
“If we do not move a full-time firefighter into a staff position, than we are only short one person,” Harris said, suggesting that the savings could be shifted towards capital expenditures.
Swyers, a Wildwood resident, argued that the public education program had been “wildly successful, almost too much” and that people like seeing the district out in the community and at the schools. He also said it’s important that the person filling the role being a full-fledged firefighter.
“It is a cost, but it is a benefit to the community,” he said.