Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors OKs 2013 ‘blended’ tax rate of 70.8 cents

Board will consider approval of 2014 budget in December

By Mike Anthony

The Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors voted unanimously last week to establish a 2013 “blended” tax rate of 70.8 cents per $100 of assessed valuation after reviewing a preliminary 2014 budget.

The blended tax rate is not levied, but used for state calculations. The district’s approved 2013 tax rate is one-tenth of a cent more than the current blended rate of 70.7 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

The 2013 tax rates for the general, alarm and pension funds are: 62.5 cents, 4.5 cents and 3.8 cents, respectively.

The 2012 tax rates for the general, alarm and pension funds are: 62.5 cents, 4.4 cents and 3.8 cents, respectively.

The district’s preliminary 2014 budget projects expenditures of $19,104,306 with anticipated revenues of $19,526,014 — a surplus of $421,708.

The district’s current budget projects total revenues of $20,145,683 with anticipated expenditures of $19,363,775 — a surplus of $781,908.

For 2013, the district’s total assessed valuation dropped to $2,227,618,170 from 2012’s total assessed valuation of $2,298,114,885.

“… In total, the assessed valuation for the Mehlville Fire Protection District is down $70 million. That’s primarily due to a $59.8 million decrease in residential real estate, as well as a $10 million decrease in personal property assessed valuations,” Chief Financial Officer Brian Bond told the board. “With those decreases in assessed valuations, pursuing the tax rate without any voluntary reductions, it does produce $462,000 less in real and personal property taxes …”

In a memo to the board, Bond projects total revenue will drop by $620,000.

“Due to reductions in tax revenue, a projected increase in ambulance collections and the nonrecurring revenue of a $340,000 FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) grant in 2013, the 2014 preliminary budget forecasts a $620,000 decrease in revenue over the 2013 budget,” he wrote.

Of the more than $421,000 surplus projected in the preliminary 2014 budget, Bond wrote that “$271,000 is funding future disability payment obligations and $239,000 is funding future unknown dispatching-related expenses, leaving a $99,000 deficit in the general fund …

“The 2014 preliminary budget will continue to be refined for final presentation to the board in December 2013, and we will search for opportunities to have a balanced budget in the general fund.”

Other premises Bond outlined in the preliminary 2014 budget include:

• A total of $1.3 million will be transferred to the capital fund for capital expenditures, including $650,000 for a new pumper, $170,000 for a new ambulance, $150,000 for apparatus reserve and $100,000 for construction reserve for future engine house renovations.

• A total of $350,000 will be transferred to the pension fund to address current shortfalls and increase reserves for future underfunded disability payments.

• Salaries reflect an increase of $97,000 due to step increases and no other raises.

• Unscheduled overtime will remain at $500,000 to reflect the current unscheduled overtime necessary to operate the district’s sixth ambulance.

• Medical insurance premiums are projected to increase 10 percent, while dental and vision insurance premiums are anticipated to increase 5 percent.

• A total of $287,000 will be used for debt service on certificates of participation issued in 2000 to fund the expansion and renovation of the district’s No. 5 firehouse and administrative headquarters.

One person spoke during the tax-rate hearing. Tesson Ferry Township Republican Committeeman John Judd praised the fiscal stewardship of the board and the district’s administration.

The board will consider approval of the final 2014 budget in December.