CFO outlines premises for fire district’s preliminary 2017 budget

Board to consider final OK of ’17 budget in December

CFO outlines premises for fire district's preliminary 2017 budget

By Mike Anthony

Chief Financial Officer Brian Bond last week outlined to the Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors the premises he is using to draft the district’s preliminary 2017 budget.

“… We’re approaching the time of year where the board will fix the tax rates for 2016. These are the tax rates that will support our budget for the fiscal year 2017,” Bond told the board Aug. 24.

The district’s 2016 tax rates will be presented to the board in September for adoption before Oct. 1. At that time, the board will consider approval of a preliminary budget, he said.

“… We’ve already been working to develop a few steps in the preliminary budget process, but I did just want to share with the board the material premises that are going to be proposed to develop the preliminary budget that you will see next month, along with the tax rates,” Bond said. “Again, this is not the final budget. The final budget will be presented to the board in December when we have more accurate figures …”

The preliminary budget will be developed without utilizing any voluntary rollbacks in the district’s tax rates, he said.

The district’s 2015 “blended” tax rate is 70 cents per $100 of assessed valuation — 1 cent less than the 2014 blended tax rate of 71 cents per $100. The blended tax rate is not levied, but used for state calculations.

In April, district voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition S, which consolidated the general fund tax levy and alarm fund tax levy into one fund, resulting in the elimination of the alarm fund levy. The 5 cents previously levied by the alarm fund will be transferred to the general fund.

Regarding transfers, the chief financial officer said $1 million will be transferred from the general fund to the capital fund to address capital expenditures in 2017 and reserve funds for future apparatus and equipment replacement.

Also, $1 million will be transferred from the general fund to the pension fund “to address current-year shortfalls in the pension fund and also reserve for future underfunded disability payments,” Bond said.

For expenses, he said the district’s staffing needs will be evaluated to determine if any additions to the district’s organizational chart are necessary, and unscheduled overtime will remain at $800,000 to fund the unscheduled overtime required to continue to operate the district’s sixth ambulance.

Regarding employee benefits, Bond is forecasting a 10-percent increase in medical insurance premiums and a 5-percent increase in dental and vision premiums.

The actual amount of premiums will be known before the approval of the 2017 budget, as will the cost of workers’ compensation premiums.

A 5-percent increase in workers’ compensation premiums is anticipated.

For administration, general overhead, professional fees and other costs, Bond said, “As in prior years, we will continue to look at these expenditures and evaluate them based on a rolling three-year average, also looking at current-year forecasted expenditures and also looking specifically at itemized needs that will be present for the year 2017.”

In addition, debt service will be budgeted in accordance with the debt-service schedule on certificates of participation issued in 2000 to fund the expansion and renovation of the district’s No. 5 firehouse and administrative headquarters.

For capital outlays, $500,000 will be included for the purchase of a pumper, $190,000 will be included for the purchase of an ambulance, $100,000 will be reserved for apparatus replacement and $100,000 will be reserved for future engine house renovations, according to Bond.