North Shore Fire Department budget talks begin in the red
Board will need to trim expenses, even with 1.5 percent payment hike
Revenue losses and proposed equipment purchases will likely cause the North Shore Fire Department's member communities to pay more in the 2014 budget year.
According to early budget talks among NSFD administrators and the Board of Directors Tuesday, the department would run a projected deficit of about $43,000 in 2014, even with a 1.5 percent increase in the amount paid by each community compared to last year. Fire Chief Robert Whitaker and Finance Director Lynn Burton said they could likely find places in the budget to make up that difference.
Representatives from each of the seven NSFD member communities supported the 1.5 increase in an informal poll — though just "barely" in Glendale Mayor Jerome Tepper's case — but didn't signal support for a 1.9 percent increase, which would allow the department to break even in the coming year.
In light of county executive Chris Abele in 2012 halving county payments for contracted paramedic services through area departments, the county board increased NSFD's payment last year from $180,000 to $245,000 to help offset the lost revenue. NSFD board members are hopeful the county board will repeat the added $65,000 payment, which would allow the department to break even next year with only the 1.5 percent increase.
"This puts some additional pressure on the county," said board member and River Hills Village President Bob Brunner of choosing the lesser increase.
Whitaker said the department will bring detailed financial models to an upcoming September board meeting for the board's consideration.
A timeline included in the presentation Tuesday indicates a budget will need to be approved by the NSFD board and sent to each member community for approval by Oct. 1.
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