By Rusty Bradshaw
Sun City Fire District officials are considering a fire operations budget slightly higher than the previous year.
The district board was scheduled to consider the budget for tentative approval during its regular meeting May 15. Results of that meeting were not available at press time. The tentative budget will be considered for final adoption during the board’s regular meeting 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 19 at the district headquarters, 18602 N. 99th Ave.
The budget proposed for the 2018-19 fiscal year is $11.6 million. That is a 1.8 percent increase from the 2017-18 approved budget of $11.4 million.
District officials can count on increased tax revenue as property valuations are expected to increase 7.5 percent, according to Gabe Buldra, the district’s contracted finance director. Valuations were $308 million during the existing fiscal year and are projected to be $322 million for the 2018-19 fiscal year. District officials project $10.8 million in property tax and fire district assistance tax revenues. Another $376,730 is projected from net ambulance operations and another $343,000 from paramedic services, fire prevention program, grants and other revenue.
The district will see increased payroll costs from increases in insurance premiums and retirement benefits, in addition to employee raises, according to Mr. Buldra.
“Everyone who is eligible for a step will get it,” he explained. “All administrative personnel will get a 2 percent cost of living adjustment and the rest, including the chief and ambulance personnel, will get a 1 percent.”
He added firefighters and ambulance personnel requested the lower COLA in exchange for increased retirement benefits.Major expense increases in the district budget are for Public Safety Personnel Retirement System at 18.39 percent, electricity at 40 percent, Water and sewer service at 20 percent, gas service at 16.6 percent, trash service at 33.33 percent and Internet service at 25 percent. All except PSPRS are due to the new fire station that is due to be completed in mid-July.
That is offset by expense decreases for worker’s compensation insurance at 21.72 percent; repair parts, labor and fleet supplies and equipment at 15 percent each with new vehicles; and fire training at 36.74 percent.
The district’s ambulance budget will see a large jump — 43.1 percent. However, that is due to a projected full year of operating three ambulances while only two were operated through about one-third of the 2017-18 fiscal year, according to Mr. Buldra. In addition, district officials project enough revenue to offset all costs and have $376,730 left over to transfer to the district general fund.
The fire operations and ambulance budgets are separate because the medical side of the fire department cannot be funded by tax dollars. Rather, it must survive on its own revenue generated, according to Ron deadman, Sun City fire chief.
Ambulance budgeted expense increases are in personnel (64.5 percent), operations and equipment (158.2 percent and the transfer tot he general fund (100 percent). However, expense reductions expected are in managerial costs (22.3 percent) and professional services (66.7 percent). The medical program will see the same cost for communications.
IF YOU GO:
What: Sun City Fire District board
When: 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 19
Where: Administration headquarters, 18602 N. 99th Ave.