Compensation supplement OK’d for MFPD employees

Additional $500,000 transfer to pension fund is approved

Aaron Hilmer

Aaron Hilmer

By Mike Anthony

A one-time $1,000 compensation supplement for Mehlville Fire Protection District employees was approved last week by the Board of Directors.

Board members voted unanimously Dec. 23 to approve the $1,000 compensation supplement for full-time employees working for the fire district as of Dec. 31. Part-time employees and employees who began working for the fire district this year will receive a pro-rated supplemental payment.

The 2015 budget, approved in December 2014, did not include a pay increase for employees — only step increases — and the compensation supplement is the only salary adjustment employees will receive, according to Chief Financial Officer Brian Bond.

The one-time compensation supplement will not impact the district’s 2016 budget, which the board also approved last week.

The 2016 budget includes step increases and an additional 1.5-percent salary increase for employees.

“As we near the end of 2015, I wanted to provide the board with a 2015 budget update and amendment,” Bond said. “Certainly each month throughout the year we talk about the performance of the organization in terms of how we’re doing budget compared to actual, just to make the board aware that we’re going to have the resources available all year long to address the needs (of the district) …

“Looking at the 2015 year-to-date budget versus actual results, we see a number of significant positive variances on our expense side in the general fund through Nov. 30, 2015. It’s forecasted that the general fund will have approximately 4 percent of the budget that will not be utilized. This translates to approximately $700,000.”

Some of the “significant positive variances” cited by Bond are:

• Salaries/overtime wages of $220,000 realized through the attrition of seven employees during the year.

• Payroll taxes of $70,000 realized through the attrition of seven employees during the year.

• Health insurance savings of $80,000 realized through the attrition of seven employees during the year.

• Gasoline and oil savings of $50,000 realized through declining fuel prices throughout the year.

• EMS billing savings of $65,000 by negotiating a lower billing rate than what was originally budgeted.

• Election expense savings of $33,000. No one filed to challenge Board of Directors Treasurer Bonnie Stegman in April, so no election was conducted.

“Obviously when the budget is prepared in the previous year, we cannot foresee or anticipate all the things that will take place in the course of the year, and if these results had been known prior to 2015 additional funds could have been transferred to the pension fund to address future obligations and perhaps a pay increase could have been part of the 2015 budget …,” Bond said.

He recommended the board transfer an additional $500,000 from the general fund to the pension fund and that employees “receive a compensation supplement in 2015. This payment will serve as an incentive to the employees to continue their dedication to fiscal responsibility and keeping costs down …”

Both recommendations were approved unanimously by the board.

For 2016, the district saw a zero-percent increase in its medical insurance premium with Anthem, something board Chairman Aaron Hilmer attributed to employees.

“… A lot of the buy-in or actions of the employee group as a whole helped us hold to a zero-percent increase on health insurance. If that would be a 10-percent increase, I don’t think we’d even be talking about this,” he said.

Chief Brian Hendricks said the board “took a risk” when it initiated the district’s employee wellness program.

Noting that a zero-percent increase in health insurance premiums is “almost unheard of,” the chief said, “The employees are dedicated to that program, and we’re all reaping the rewards of that now.”