MFPD board sets tax rates, reviews preliminary 2017 budget

Board to consider approval of final budget in December

MFPD board sets tax rates, reviews preliminary 2017 budget

By Mike Anthony

The Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors recently voted unanimously to establish a 2016 blended tax rate of 71 cents per $100 of assessed valuation after reviewing a preliminary 2017 budget.

The 2016 blended tax rate is 1 cent more than the current 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.

“Back in April of 2016, the voters approved Proposition S, which abolished the alarm levy and it increased the general revenue levy by the corresponding 5 cents …,” Chief Financial Officer Brian Bond said.

Proposition S 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 was transferred to the general fund.

For 2016, the fire district’s total assessed valuation increased by $24,405,039 to $2,319,503,410 from last year’s total assessed valuation of $2,295,097,471, according to Bond.

“That $24.4 million increase consists of an $8.4 million increase in real estate assessed values and a $16 million increase in personal property assessed values,” the chief financial officer told the board Sept. 28.

The approved tax rates are projected to collect $16.48 million for the district, of which the county retains 1.5 percent for its administrative fee, leaving $16.23 million available to the district.

Bond also presented the preliminary 2017 budget to the board, which projects revenues of $20,555,390 with anticipated expenditures totaling $20,553,436 — a surplus of $1,954.

Mehlville’s current budget projects revenues of $19,927,321 with expenditures totaling $19,322,034 — a surplus of $605,287.

“… The 2017 preliminary budget forecasts that the 2016 tax revenue will provide $390,000 more than the 2016 budget,” Bond said. “In addition, because of projected increases in other revenue streams, such as interest revenue, ambulance collections and fee revenue, the 2017 preliminary budget forecasts in total $628,000 of increase in total revenue over the previous year.”

Regarding expenditures, the preliminary 2017 budget projects a $1,231,000 increase over the current budget.

“This is primarily due to a change of how we’re presenting the budget this year,” Bond said. “In the past, we’ve always presented the impact of the payments for the defined-benefit plan, the terminated defined-benefit plan, as part of just the impact to the fund balance at the end. Years ago, I think we anticipated hopefully we’d be able to take those designated funds that were part of that and through lump-sum distribution offerings and though just the passing of time, those resources would be able to just absorb all the impact of that and it wouldn’t be something we’d be intending to address.

“We’ve offered several lump-sum distribution opportunities for the participants. We’re down to about 26 participants on an annual basis … I think it’s important that we go ahead and revise how we present the information for the budget at this time to begin to include those payments as part of our budget because it is an ongoing expense …”

Of the more than $1.2 million in increased expenditures in the preliminary 2017 budget, the payments for the terminated defined-benefit pension plan total $920,000. Other increases include $180,000 for employee benefits, $68,000 for salary step increases and $21,000 in capital expenditures.

The board will consider approval of the final 2017 budget in December.

The preliminary budget proposes that 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 forecasts 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 2017 budget is approved, as will the cost of workers’ compensation premiums. A 5-percent increase in workers’ compensation premiums is anticipated.

Debt service of $286,000 is 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.