Proposed ’12 budget to be considered this week by MFPD Board of Directors

By MIKE ANTHONY

Executive Editor

A proposed 2012 budget that projects revenues of roughly $19.2 million with expenditures totaling more than $18.5 million was set to be considered this week by the Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors.

The Board of Directors was scheduled to meet Wednesday — after the Call went to press.

The proposed 2012 budget anticipates revenues totaling $19,203,193 with expenditures of $18,546,280 — a surplus of $656,913. The projected surplus is greater than what was anticipated in the preliminary 2012 budget presented to the board in late September.

That preliminary budget for next year had projected revenues of $19,213,684 with expenditures of $18,636,470 — a surplus of $577,219.

The district’s 2011 budget anticipates revenues of $18,947,446 with projected expenditures of $21,032,000 — a deficit of $2,084,554. The district will not go into the red, but will dip into its reserves.

The deficit for 2011 results from the purchase of land for a new No. 3 Firehouse and the construction of that firehouse, according to Board of Directors Chairman Aaron Hilmer.

Work began earlier this year on the new firehouse at 4811 S. Lindbergh Blvd.

The 8,000-square-foot firehouse will replace the existing No. 3 Firehouse at 11625 Sappington Barracks Road, about 1,000 feet to the west. The J.E. Foster Building Co. is the contractor for the construction project.

The proposed 2012 budget seeks to transfer $1.2 million to the capital fund from the general fund, including $590,000 for a pumper and $170,000 for an ambulance.

In addition, the proposed budget includes 2-percent salary increases for a majority of district employees as part of a three-year compensation plan approved in 2009.

The proposed 2012 budget projects a starting fund balance of $11,903,824 on Jan. 1, 2012, and an ending fund balance of $12,560,737 on Dec. 31, 2012.

Mehlville’s “blended” tax rate of 69.7 cents is the lowest of any fire protection district in St. Louis County for the sixth consecutive year.

District voters in April 2009 overwhelmingly approved two propositions reducing the fire district’s tax-rate ceiling by a total of 40 cents.

Proposition 1 asked whether the district’s general-fund tax-rate ceiling should be permanently reduced by 36 cents per $100 of assessed of valuation while Proposition 2 asked whether the district’s pension-fund tax-rate ceiling should be permanently reduced by 4 cents per $100.

Approval of the two propositions has resulted in the district not being able to collect nearly $10.5 million in tax revenue annually, according to Hilmer.

Hilmer and board Treasurer Bonnie Stegman first took office in April 2005 after running a campaign in which they pledged to eliminate fiscal waste and roll back Proposition S, a 33-cent tax-rate increase approved in November 2004.

Voter approval of the two tax-decrease measures made permanent what the board had been doing on a voluntary basis since it set the district’s tax rate in August 2005, essentially rolling back the 33-cent Prop S increase.

At that time, the district’s tax-rate ceiling was $1.22.