Volume No. 17 Issue No. 11 November 2020  

  FFPD board gets glimpse of proposed 2021 budget

     CORRECTION: Last month, we botched the name of the FFPD firefighter highlighted in the Safety Tip write-up. Lt. Curtis Kaufman was referred to as Chris Kaufman. We apologize for the mistake.

   At their meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 21, the Falcon Fire Protection District Board of Directors discussed building plans and the proposed budget for the coming year.
   Current budget
   Chief Trent Harwig informed the board that as of Sept. 30, the fiscal year was 75 percent complete. The general fund had received 75 percent of its revenue for the year and was 68 percent of the budget on expenditures.
   Revenues for the ambulance transport fund were only at 69 percent because collections were not as large as expected. Billing for Medicaid and Medicare takes several months to collect. On the bright side, expenditures were at 51 percent of the budgeted amount. Harwig said the decreased expenditures were based on the fact that the budget included three ambulances and crews for the entire year. The department started the year with two ambulances and two crews and later added a third ambulance and crew. Since this was the first year of ambulance service, the chief said they had to use their best guess on revenues and expenditures; and they overestimated the costs. He said that for the coming year, the ambulance transport fund would be more realistic because it would be based on the previous year.
   With the finalization of the $2,200,000 lease purchase agreement for the new station 3, the capital projects fund was at 90 percent of revenues, but major construction had not started so expenditures are at 34 percent.
   September calls
   Jon Webb, deputy chief for the emergency medical services, reported 94 ambulance transports in September.
   Jeff Petersma, deputy chief of operations, reported a total of 280 calls for the month of September and 2,139 calls year-to-date. At the same time last year, the total calls were 2,330. He attributed last year's larger number, in part, to the bomb cyclone in March. Petersma said response times were better in September because there was no construction; therefore, less congestion. He said all response times are up from last September. In September, there were 19 responses to Ellicott and eight of those were EMS calls with three transports.
   Attorney's report
   Attorney Joan Fritsche informed the board that they need to update the district map because of the recent inclusion of a commercial area on Highway 24. She announced that Dan Kupferer met qualifications and has been sworn in to serve the remainder of Cory Galicia's term. Galicia recently resigned because his job took him to another part of the state.
   Construction plans
   Harwig said the new roundabout on Old Meridian Road is big enough for the fire engines. He said that until the new Meridian Road/Highway 24 intersection is completed there will not be any construction in front of station 3 to hinder response times.
   Turning to the new station 3, Kupferer said everything rests on approval of the development plans, which have been submitted. Hammers Construction cannot get a building or foundation permit until the development plans are approved.
   Harwig informed the board that preliminary pricing for the administration building came in at $1.5 million. As soon as the new station 3 is finished, they anticipate that all the paperwork should be complete for remodeling the current station 3 into an administration building; construction could start immediately.
   The 2021 budget
   The board spent time discussing the proposed budget for 2021, which totals about $15,260,000, an increase over this year's estimated budget of $11,372 ,000. A large part of the increase is because of a hefty increase in the capital projects fund to cover two major construction projects, the new station 3 and remodeling the old station 3 into an administration building. The proposed budget contains $8,249,000 in the general fund, $2,273,000 in the ambulance transport fund, $4,727,000 in the capital projects fund and $11,000 in the rural water fund. Harwig said the proposed budget could change as needed until the public hearing on the budget. He said the staffing level would remain the same. The current budget had some staff positions that are vacant because there was no place for them.
   The board voted to move the December meeting to Dec. 9 in order to hold a public budget hearing on that date to meet the deadline for submitting the budget to the county.
   The next board meeting is Wednesday, Nov. 11, at 4 p.m. at station 3 at the intersection of Old Meridian Road and Highway 24. It can be seen on Zoom by going to https://zoom.us/j/731479999.
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