Mehlville Fire Protection District 2022 budget has $3.18 million deficit

Tax revenue lower than previously predicted in fall

Mehlville+Fire+Protection+District+2022+budget+has+%243.18+million+deficit

By Lucas Irizarry, Staff Reporter

The Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors approved its 2022 budget Dec. 15, but the overall revenue dropped by $225,000 from the preliminary budget introduced in September.

Chief Financial Officer Brian Bond said the overall assessed valuation in the district decreased $33 million, resulting in a $225,000 drop in tax revenue from the preliminary assessed values discussed in September. 

Despite the drop in expected tax revenue, the district is still seeing a $690,000 total increase in revenue. Tax revenue will still provide $336,000 more than it did in 2021 and net revenue from other sources is expected to add another $354,000 according to Bond.

The budget also adds $1.178 million to the capital fund for overall improvements to the district, including $100,000 for construction, $287,000 for the purchase of an ambulance, $350,000 for one half of a pumper truck and $272,000 for future fire and EMS equipment. 

The district is expected to be hit hard with new expenses in the 2022 budget, with $2.186 million more than in 2021. Bond said a large portion of the increase is due to new hirings.

“The 2022 salaries expense reflects a $1.2 million increase. This is due in part to hiring seven additional personnel for next year,” Bond said. “We’re looking at hiring one extra fire medic per crew … We’re looking at hiring one extra CCP (critical care paramedic) per 12 hour shift … We’re looking at hiring a second fire inspector we anticipate will be here for half the year.”

Bond said the new hirings will help address overtime costs, which have been “running rampant.” He said the cost should drop by around $52,000 if things go as planned. 

Health insurance expenses will increase by $537,000 in an effort to address an increase in deductibles. 

In total, the district will operate at a $3.181 million deficit, which Bond said would require a 10 cent tax increase to reach a balanced budget. The district does have enough reserves to cover the loss and staff have begun exploring ways to increase revenue in the future. 

“Thankfully we have the reserves available to use, and the residents of the district are receiving an enhanced level of service that I believe is probably better than any other fire protection district in St. Louis County,” Bond said. “Future budgets are going to be faced with similar challenges and in 2022 it’s our intention to bring recommendations forward for increasing further revenue.”