Administrative Budget Highlights

Contingency:

We have requested that individual departments no longer keep contingency budget reserves at the local department level. Instead, to increase transparency, we have provided for a top-level contingency reserve of $750,000. The purpose of this contingency line item is to provide a financial buffer in the budget, allowing the district to handle unforeseen circumstances, such as unforeseen expenses or revenue shortfalls, without disrupting other essential services or requiring immediate adjustments to the regular budget allocations. The proposed amount represents slightly more than 3% of the total budget which we consider acceptable in view of the district’s strong financial position in terms of fund balance reserves.


Principal on Loans:

We have budgeted a total of $662,086 of which $447,534 refer to the Vera Bank loan financing two fire stations and $214,552 refer to the Motorola capital lease financing the acquisition of radios. The Vera loan has an interest rate of 2.22% and matures in 2029. The Motorola lease has an interest rate of 2.41% and matures in 2026. Given the attractive interest rates on these financings we do not recommend early pay-offs.


Workers’ Comp (“WC”)

Going in to the new fiscal year, the number of full-time paid staff has increased some 45% compared to the current fiscal year. It follows that the payroll numbers subject to workers' comp premiums will have increased by a similar percentage. Therefore, we have budgeted to account for WC premiums associated with the newly staffed station in Whitehouse and Winona. We have also budgeted for increased WC premiums for all employees associated with compensation increases and increased staffing numbers, including the twelve new fire fighters to augment Red Springs and Jackson which were added during the spring. The end result is that the budgeted WC premiums increased from $257,056 in the current fiscal year to $387,150 in the coming fiscal year. We did not budget for the volunteer related WC premiums as we plan on reversing this expense once we receive the reimbursements from the VFDs. In previous years, we did budget for this expense and recorded as income the reimbursements from the VFDs.


Pay Per Call Stipends:

For most VFDs, we have assumed a 10% increase over the current year. For Whitehouse, where we saw a decline in PPC following the 48/96 staffing, we projected out the realized PPC post 48/96 for the new fiscal year. To a lesser degree we assumed the same logic would apply when we projected out the Winona PPC.


Chief & Training Stipends:

We have assumed we will pay each of the eleven VFD departments a monthly Chief stipend of $1,000, and a monthly training coordinator stipend of $500, generating a fiscal year total of $18,000 for each department.


Legal Fees:

We have budgeted a total of $96,000 which represent a 17% increase over the current year's budget. However, the budgeted amount more correctly reflects the actual legal expenses incurred in the current fiscal year plus the anticipated need in the coming fiscal year.