By Dedra Cordle
The financial stability of the Jackson Township Fire Department was discussed at the May 15 board of trustees meeting.
During the caucus session, Fire Chief Randy Little presented to the board a number of options that he believes could be implemented in order to make the department more financially secure in the present and in the future.
One of the options that he proposed was making a change to the budget process.
“I think making it a 10-year cycle makes sense,” he said.
According to Little, the benefits of the change would include a clearer vision of when financial trouble may on the horizon; the best methods that could be used to combat it; and the potential for a healthy reserve in funds.
“A fire department traditionally calls for a reserve of 25 percent of its budget,” Little said. “And for us that would be a reserve of $4 million.”
He went on to say that $4 million in reserve could do “a lot” for the fire department.
Some additional benefits of the budget change, he said, was in regard to fire levies, replacements, or bond issues, especially as it pertains to taxpayers in the township.
“They would know when we would be on the ballot and they would know it would be for a reasonable amount,” Little said.
He said a change in the budget process would also provide security in case voters rejected a ballot request.
“We would have that reserve, extend our finances for years 11, 12, or 13, and take that time to regroup (and come up with a different request),” he said.
Trustee David Burris said he found Little’s proposal to change the budget process to be a decent “first step” in financial solvency and asked for more information about financial projections throughout the upcoming 10-year span for the next regular meeting.
Little also proposed maintaining current staffing levels but restructuring how stations are run through making apparatus changes.
“Essentially what we would be doing is moving pieces of equipment around to manage overtime costs,” he said.
The budget projection has the fire department spending $459,000 in overtime this year. Little said that by restructuring how the stations operate, it could eliminate up to 72 hours of potential overtime per day.
Replacement levies were also discussed during the presentation, as was asking the fire department personnel to take compensatory time rather than wages in overtime. Neither issue were moved upon.