By Dedra Cordle
The Jackson Township board of trustees approved the 2018 budget at a special meeting earlier this month.
The budget calls for the appropriation of $14 million for the fire department while estimating that the revenue generated by the department will be nearly $1 million less.
To try to bridge the gap between its revenue and expenditures, Fire Chief Randy Little said that cuts have been made to some services, specifically training services for its personnel. He added that the department currently has three training captains who can administer training services, which would reduce some of the cost of outside training services.
The training cuts, Little admitted, has been a cause for concern for the fire department’s employees.
“They get very anxious when they see cuts to training services,” he said.
He explained that cuts to the training service does not automatically mean cuts to personnel.
“When I make the budget, I try to be as conservative as possible so we have enough money to carry over into the next year.”
And unfortunately, he said, that means a reduction in some of the training services so they can maintain their million-dollar reserve.
Another reduction that Little called for is with some capital expenses, in particular the asphalt replacement at stations that are seeing wear and tear. Little said the department will be able to use some money in the township’s general fund to purchase an EMS vehicle, SCBA gear and a fuel tank replacement at Station 202.
The cost of overtime is also generating a closer look.
According to the budget, the fire department will spend approximately $400,000 in overtime alone in 2018.
“The overtime is what’s killing us,” said board trustee David Burris.
It was reported at the March 20 regular meeting that the fire department has already spent more than $33,000 in overtime this year.
To find a solution to lessen the cost of overtime, the trustees asked Little to come up with a list of viable options on what can be done. Little said he in currently in the process of preparing a list of options and will present them to the board in the upcoming weeks.
During the budget discussions in February and March, a ballot measure was discussed by fire personnel. The trustees said they want to look at all other options such as holding discussions with the city of Grove City regarding cost sharing measures and Tax Increment Financing before asking the residents to vote upon a ballot measure.
Township Fiscal Officer Ron Grossman remarked that it would be nice if they could collect all of the millage on old levies rather than just 20 percent.
As for the rest of the township’s financial outlook, Grossman said the revenue is flat but they are in good fiscal shape.
The general fund is estimated to have $1.3 million in revenue, the EMS Transport Billing $1.57 million, the Road and Bridge Fund $490,000 and the Gasoline Tax and the Motor Vehicle License Tax fund $89,000 and $10,000, respectively.