Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Orland Fire Protection District trustees accept budget recommendations

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The Orland Fire Protection Diistrict trustees accept budget recommendations

The Orland Fire Protection District held a special meeting Tuesday Oct. 16, 2012 to accept budget recommendations from the district's department heads. The recommendations were presented to the board by Budget Director Kerry Sullivan and Fire Chief Ken Brucki.

Sullivan explained that the projections were merely recommendations that still must be approved by the board, once a budget document is finalized.

The board voted to direct the district to display the tentative budget to the public beginning on Oct. 26, Friday, 30-days before the board is expected to vote to approve the budget on Tuesday Nov. 27. Sullivan said that members of the public will then be allowed to review the spending proposals and submit their own comments when the budget is voted on during the board hearing Nov. 27.

Brucki and Sullivan explained the proposed tentative budget, which is still subject to revisions of trustees, is for $29 million, with $29.9 million in projected revenues. There is no change from last year’s budget and includes expenditures for the 11 firefighters hired recently, and projects funds for union wage negotiations (two contracts expire Dec. 31, 2012).

Sullivan said the budget will be “a break even budget.”

“This is the 2nd time that our budget would be under $30 million in the past six years now. Previously, our budget was over $30 million and was on its way to hitting $40 million based on prior spending habits. That was unacceptable. But we believe the budget reflects our continued concern for the needs of taxpayers who want great fire service at a better managed cost,” said OFPD Board President Jim Hickey. Hickey noted that last year was the first time the budget was under $30 million in the prior five years.

Chief Brucki said that department heads presented their budget needs and he and the budget department reviewed and made recommendations that are included for the board. Brucki said the proposed budget will be made public next week at the regularly scheduled Tuesday October 23 board meeting, and then voted on at the November 27 board meeting following a public budget hearing.

“There isn’t a lot of wiggle room in the budget, About 86.5 percent of the budget represents fixed costs for personnel,” Brucki said. “This year the process was streamlined and we made everyone justify every cost request. My goal was to tighten the process.”

Trustee Chris Evoy said, “This budget proposal keeps everything within the boundaries we have wanted. It is very considerate of the needs of the taxpayers who have demanded more accountability and a tighter control on spending. I think this budget achieves those needs.”

The budget process was opened to the public for the first time in 2011 when the new board held a special budget meeting to allow department heads to explain their recommendations. That was the first time the public was allowed to witness the detailed budget process, Hickey explained.

This year's budget recommendations so closely paralleled last year's recommendations that the requests were submitted by Sullivan and Brucki to the trustees who got their first look at projected numbers on Oct. 16.