Fire district’s 2017 budget projecting ending balance of over $17.5 million

Expenses up $1.25 million compared to previous year

Fire district's 2017 budget projecting ending balance of over $17.5 million

By Mike Anthony

A 2017 budget that projects a fund balance of over $17.5 million at the end of the year recently was adopted by the Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors.

The 2017 budget projects expenditures of $20,574,237 with anticipated revenues of $20,575,486 — a surplus of $1,249.

With a beginning fund balance of $17,577,991 on Jan. 1, an ending fund balance of $17,579,240 is projected on Dec. 31.

In September, the Board of Directors discussed the preliminary 2017 budget and also voted to establish a 2016 “blended” tax rate of 71 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

The 2016 blended tax rate is 1 cent more than the previous blended tax rate of 70 cents per $100. The blended tax rate is not levied, but used for state calculations.

The 2016 tax rates for the general and pension funds are: 67.2 cents per $100 and 3.8 cents per $100, respectively.

The district’s revised 2016 budget projected total revenues of $19,927,321 with anticipated expenditures of $19,322,034 — a surplus of $605,287.

Compared to 2016, the 2017 budget projects an increase of $648,164 in total revenues and a $1,252,203 increase in total expenditures, according to Chief Financial Officer Brian Bond.

The tax rates established by the board in September will generate roughly $17.1 million in revenue, he told the board Dec. 28, noting that amount is about $407,000 more than last year.

Other revenue sources — interest income, permit fees and EMS billing — reflect a cumulative increase of $241,000, according to Bond.

A total of $1,075,000 will be transferred from the general fund to the capital fund to address 2017 capital expenditures, including $250,000 for half the cost of a new pumper in 2018, $252,000 for a new ambulance and related equipment, $100,000 for future construction and $50,000 for future fire apparatus.

Besides the transfer to the capital fund, Bond said $1 million will be transferred to the pension fund to address current-year shortfalls in the fund and address benefit payments related to the terminated defined-benefit plan.

Regarding expenditures, the chief finan-cial officer said, “The 2017 salaries expense reflects a $53,000 increase due to step increases, and it does not include any other increases to rates of pay at this time.”

Unscheduled overtime will increase by $36,000 — to $836,000 — this year to reflect the current unscheduled overtime utilization necessary to operate the district’s sixth ambulance, plus allow for clinical hours related to the district’s new critical care paramedic position.

Since the preliminary budget was presented, Bond said the district received final numbers for its workers’ compensation premium and insurance premiums.

The district’s workers’ compensation premium decreased by $84,000. Last year, the workers’ compensation premium increased by $78,000.

The preliminary budget had forecast a 10-percent increase in health insurance premiums. The actual increase for medical insurance was 12 percent — $121,546 — for the district’s current provider, Anthem, with some enhanced benefits. The health insurance premium totals $1,134,476.

For dental insurance, the board retained the district’s current carrier, Aetna, at a 14.8-percent increase, or $19,029.

For vision insurance, the district’s current carrier, Humana, did not increase its premium.

For 2016, the district will spend $286,000 for debt service on $3.61 million in certificates of participation issued in 2000 to fund the expansion and renovation of the district’s No. 5 firehouse and administrative headquarters on Mueller Road in Green Park.

In July 2005, the Board of Directors voted to refund the COPs issued in 2000 with a savings of more than $240,000 in interest payments.

The $1,252,203 increase in total expenditures for 2017 compared to 2016 is “related primarily to the (terminated) defined-benefit plan,” Bond said.