Budgeting for annual expenses is a common activity at the beginning of the year and it does not matter if you have a household of one or a municipality of more than one hundred employees.
Jackson Township Trustees spent their last two meetings discussing and refining financial figures before approving $18.3 million in appropriations on Feb. 5. Including reserve accounts, more than $12.7 million was budgeted for fire department operations, followed by $1.8 million for road department operations.
"Operating costs continue to increase and we have to deal with them," said Administrator Mike Lilly. "While we do that, we’re saving for our future needs. The budget embodies the philosophy of the board of conservative spending and fiscal responsibility, while keeping in mind the township appreciates what we receive from the community," he said.
Lilly added, "We’re good stewards of resources. The big ‘what if’ is the future of the economy and what the state is going to do and we’ve taken significant provisions to accommodate that."
Fire Department personnel costs – not unlike government agencies, school districts, and other large businesses – took the biggest bite out of the budget at $8.7 million, including $2 million in reserve funds. Operating costs were budgeted at $1.1 million and capital expenditures at $773,582.
"1991 was the last time a fire levy was approved," said Fire Chief Gilbert Sheets. "For the past 17 years, we’ve run the fire department on the same levy amount. As far as being fiscally responsible people, we get the best product at the lowest price.
Sheets said, "And we do a lot of our own work. While our firefighters fight fires and do EMS, they’re jack-of-all-trades, too. All of our buildings are paid off and the land for station 204 is already paid for. Collection for EMS transport is about 12 percent of our revenue and that has helped extend the levy even further."
Deputy Fire Chief Rick Dawson said any time someone comes to department administrators with a request, they have to provide a real need. Firefighters on duty also clean and maintain stations and work on equipment.
"It’s all part of the job," continued Dawson. "As much is done in-house as possible.
Everybody has a talent they can use. There’s no one magical person."