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RVFD Budget Plan Approved

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$2.5 million RVFD Budget Plan Approved

Facing both expected and unexpected steep increases in insurance costs, the Rio Verde Fire District was challenged to prepare a budget that doesn’t increase the tax levy for the coming fiscal year. While unable to hold the line completely, the district did come within $56,000 of last year’s total on a $2.5 million budget. Last week the Fire District board gave tentative approval to a budget of $2,579,431 for the 2013-14 fiscal year. This is an increase of less than two percent over 2012-13. District Chief Gary Bradbury said there was an increase in health insurance for firefighters of about 16 percent. He said that was not unexpected and consistent with recent annual increases. However, Bradbury said the news they did not expect to receive was a 100 percent increase in industrial insurance. He said that doubled from roughly $100,000 to $200,000. Some fi re departments across the country have found they cannot get the industrial insurance this year, according to Bradbury. The district did not cut any personnel or benefits to make up the difference. The department cut its operations budget by about 38 percent from $119,750 to $74,335 to make up the bulk of the difference. The board is going forward with a plan to purchase a new fi re pumper, which was delayed from last fiscal year. The truck being replaced is 11 years old and should be replaced based on fire service standards. Bradbury said if equipment is not replaced on the standard schedule it can count against the district in its insurance underwriters (ISO) rating. That can cost residents in their insurance rates. Bradbury said they will begin to determine the specifications for the new truck and he expects to put it out for bid by the end of the calendar year. It will take almost a year for delivery. That plan will spread the cost of the vehicle out over two fiscal years. About half will be paid when the bid is awarded with the remainder to be paid at stages and on delivery. The new budget has $264,000 set aside for capital expenses. Bradbury said an issue they have had to deal with over the past few years is declining property values. He said they hope there will be some relief this coming year as indications are the total assessed valuation for the district will rebound some. The AV is the amount used to determine the tax rate for the district. The district has posted its tentative budget, and a detailed copy of the plan is available for public inspection at the fi re station, or copies can be made available by calling the station at 471-2304. Approval of the tentative budget plan sets a cap on the total budget for the coming year. The board cannot increase that total prior to final approval. It can cut, however. The Fire District Board of Directors will hold a public hearing on the budget proposal and consider final adoption at its June session.

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