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Budget proposal may set aside funds for fire truck, fund shed and truck

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By Jeff Moore

A new pumper truck for the Carrollton Fire Department won’t be purchased this year, but council agreed Wednesday that it needs to begin setting aside money for one in next year’s budget.

Members of city council gathered Wednesday afternoon for budget presentations from the fire department, public works and the 2 Rivers Campground. The proposed budget includes funds for increasing volunteer firefighter pay and a storage shed and new truck for the public works department.

Fire Chief Greg Beck had included a $385,000 request in his $542,283 budget request for a fire engine to replace one with a failing pumper that does not operate to standards. But that was removed when members of council agreed they could not purchase a new truck this year. That puts the budget proposal at $152,381, up by $4,402 over the current budget.

Due to new regulations that took effect since last year’s budget meetings, the cost of the truck has increased by about $60,000, Beck said. He also warned that the cost to replace the pumper is likely to continue to rise.

Councilmembers asked about the status of a grant application for a new ladder truck for the department. Beck said that remains in limbo.

Councilman Robb Adams said he believes the city needs to start setting aside money to replace the ladder truck.

But Beck encouraged them to save for a pumper. He explained that he embraces the philosophy of former fire chief Randy Tharp who thought it was more important to have a new pumper truck because that gets more usage. He believed the department should go used with the ladder truck.

The current ladder truck was purchased used for about $60,000.

Adams said that “was a freak thing” and they can’t expect to find another piece of equipment like this for such a great price.

Beck agreed that it would be well over $100,000 to find one used. A new ladder truck would cost more than $700,000.

Beck stressed the importance of having the pumper trucks for the city’s ISO ratings. The city lost a few points on its last ISO inspection because the one truck did not meet the pumping standards. But it was not enough of a point drop to affect the city’s ISO rating and the insurance rates for homeowners.

Mayor Gene McMurry said he believes they should put $150,000 back for the pumper truck this year.

But Councilman Dwight Louden said the money doesn’t have to be reflected in the budget if it is going to be put into certificates of deposit.

Due to his questions, City Clerk/Treasurer Letha Grimes said she would talk to the city’s auditors to determine how it should be handled.

Beck suggested getting a 0.5 percent loan from the Kentucky Association of Counties and paying only $40,000 per year for the truck over 10 years.

But city leaders at the meeting agreed they did not want to go further into debt.

“We’re too far in debt,” Councilman Mike Gordon said.

McMurry agreed saying he would rather put that money back now and then fund the remainder next year. If they are able to do this, the new truck can be ordered on July 1, 2014. He said this is the best option “even if it costs more.”

Everyone at the meeting agreed the money should be set aside, but they did not agree to put it in the budget at this point. They said that could happen anytime during the next fiscal year.

Gordon said this is fine “as long as we do.”

With the expected $150,000 to be added to the fire department budget, it would total $305,283 for next year.

The city’s volunteer firefighters can expect an increase in the pay they receive for the first time since 2009.

Beck increased the line item for the fireman bonus to $9,500.

Under his proposal, volunteers would see their stipend for a single run rise from $20 to $23 and single training sessions rise from $17 to $20.

“I think this pay increase is adequate,” he said.

Beck offered a plan offering “extra duty credit” for firefighters to make up for the loss of 10-12 hours for the engineer position that shifted to dispatch.

He proposed that they pay volunteers an extra $25 a month to spend an hour each week performing assigned work at the firehouse on duties the engineer used to have, such as preventative maintenance, washing floors and trucks.

Adams expressed concern about how they would police this and ensure the work is getting done.

Beck said the department leadership would look to see if the trucks are washed or other work is completed.

Adams instead suggested holding an extra training meeting each month that is dedicated to performing this work. He said this would accomplish the same thing and make it easier to track those who participate. The city would pay the fee to firefighters that they receive for a training session, he said.

Adams said he supports the increased stipends, noting that with about $20,000 in fireman bonus money, it still saves the city money compared to the cost of running a paid department.

McMurry agreed. “I think they deserve to get the increase.”

Council agreed to the proposed increase in pay that Beck included in the proposed budget.

Other items in the fire department budget include:

• $6,150 for three new sets of gear. The new recruits use old gear, unless there is a fit problem, Beck said. In response to questions from council, he said the new recruits don’t get to use any new gear until after they are past their probationary period.

• A yet to be determined sum to construct a new bathroom in a storage closet for the fire department. However, funding for this will fall under the administration section of the budget. McMurry said they are working out a plan to use that closet for the new bathroom because of the proximity of plumbing and the savings the city will see from using this location.

As council members ended discussion on the fire budget, McMurry discussed the use of seasonal workers.

City leaders agreed to McMurry’s proposal to use seasonal laborers for the five to six months they are needed. The city can pay about $10 per hour to those working at the campground or with public works. This is less than what the city would pay for temporary workers through employment agencies. “Anyway we can save … and get a lot of projects the city wants to get done done,” he said.

Job descriptions are being prepared for council’s approval.

This led into discussion of the proposed $572,664 public works budget.

Public works supervisor Ronnie Knight included bids for a new tool shed and a new truck that were quickly embraced by council.

Knight requested $12,350 for a new 30-foot by 60-foot metal shed from Gosman Inc.

Gordon said it is needed to provide storage for the bulldozer, tractor and leaf machine, keeping them out of the weather.

Knight proposed placing the structure at the public works building. But Gordon expressed concern that it would be in the flood plain.

But Knight said the location he had in mind would be out of the flood plain.

Louden suggested that he consider Carrollton Utilities’ property where its shed is located.

City officials are going to look at this option as they continue work on the budget.

Council also agreed to keep the new truck for public works in the proposed budget.

Knight presented two bids for the new truck, the lowest coming in at $26,604. Based on bids, the city would purchase a 2013 Ford F-350, a savings of about $6,000 over the Chevrolet option.

Other items council discussed for the public works budget:

• Councilmembers present agreed to spend $25,000 on sidewalks next year.

• McMurry said he would like to see public works look at the cost of buying and putting up the Christmas lights around the downtown. Knight said he would pull together that information for the mayor.

• A new $7,100 contract for street sweeping is included. By going with a contractor for street sweeping, McMurry said the city sees tremendous savings, pointing out that it would take 20 years at this rate to cover the cost of a new machine.

With the addition of the sidewalk funds, this brings the proposed budget up to $594,664 next year. That’s only up by $1,862 from the current budget, based on sidewalk spending before June 30 of $25,000.

 

Campground budget

The 2 Rivers Campground will become its own department in the budget next year.

According to the single sheet budget plan, councilmembers set proposed spending for the 2013-14 year at $41,155, down from the $43,450 expected to be spent there this year.

At Tuesday’s budget work session, McMurry said he anticipates a boost from camping, kayaking, canoeing and all the activities they’re planning.

“I anticipate a much better year,” he said.

In reviewing the budget Wednesday, McMurry noted that the salaries will decline next year by more than $6,000 by using seasonal labor at the campground.

Council agreed to this plan for budgeting, which will include a campground manager and assistant campground manager. McMurry said job descriptions for these positions are being developed.

He said there will be no need for more than 40 hours total between all workers per week at the campground, based at $10,500 in the budget.

In reviewing the spending plan, council also agreed to increase contract services from zero to $1,000 and to bump up the maintenance budget from McMurry’s $5,000 to $10,000 for next year.

The city is working on the revenue numbers from the campground’s first year of operation.

Grimes projected $6,000 between now and end of June. She estimated $9,000, but left that up to council to change.