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TFPD Board works on 2015 budget

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Draft shows potential $107,000 deficit

By Patty Unruh

The Timberline Fire Protection District (TFPD) Board had its regular meeting October 15 at Station 3, 660 Highway 46. Members present were President Jim Crawford, Vice-Chair Rick Wenzel, Secretary Paul Ondr, and Treasurer Rik Henrikson. Member at Large Chip Smith participated by telephone. Also present were Business Manager Jennifer Hinderman and Lt. John Carder, who presented the Chief’s report. Acting Chief Chris Schimanskey was not present.

Summaries of public comments about hiring a new chief, as well as special meetings of September 22 and October 9, are presented in a separate article in this issue.

Treasurer’s Report

The Board reviewed the unaudited financial statements for September. Total assets were $5,997,367, including the balance in checking and savings of $655,682, retirement investments and property taxes receivable of $1,780,553, and total fixed assets of $3,413,643.

Total liabilities were $200,121, including accounts payable of $169,044 and accrued wages, deferred property taxes, and payroll liabilities of $31,076.

Total net equity was $5,797,245.

Checks written were routine; large items included $7,282 for credit card charges, $2,800 for Station 7 driveway dirt, and $1,522 for Christopher Jennings’ paycheck dated September 26.

The September credit card summary showed $3,521 in charges for Jennings, including $450 to Lakewood Imaging for an MRI, for which no receipt had been turned in. Hinderman said she had been having difficulty getting Lakewood Imaging to bill workman’s comp. Crawford offered to assist in resolving the matter.

Henrikson noted, “67 percent of the budget had been spent, which is about where we ought to be.” Wenzel questioned why workman’s compensation was over budget by 115 percent, and Hinderman responded that some of the overage was due to Jennings’ salary change and the moving of one employee from part-time to full-time. She added that the workman’s compensation is billed one year in arrears.

Most general fund expense items year-to-date appeared routine in the budget; a few other items that were over budget included the service awards dinner (over by 182 percent at a cost of $4,551); business meals (over by 119 percent at $2,398); and hourly wages for maintenance/training staff (over by 246 percent at $18,451).

For the capital fund account, tax revenue year-to-date was $209,838. Grant income was $147,488, which was over budget by 410 percent. Proceeds from truck/equipment sales were $25,200; $40,000 had been budgeted. Net income was $135,609, which was 104 percent over budget.

Capital fund expenses year-to-date were $518,256, including fire administration, construction, and vehicles.

Chief’s Report

John Carder, lieutenant at Station 4, presented the Chief’s report in Schimanskey’s absence.

Galen Koepke has been appointed Assistant Chief.

Extrication training was well attended and local departments worked well together. Special thanks went to Paul Ondr, Aaron Skeen, Jeff Perryman, and the instructors.

No new volunteer members will be accepted until spring 2015.

Surrounding local agencies have been contacted regarding TFPD’s recent changes in command, and all are cooperative and supportive.

There were 31 calls in September, generally routine. Carder elaborated on a difficult call where two patients had to be placed on helicopter and ambulance. Nederland Fire and Medic 1 had also responded, and the entire call took only 54 minutes from initial summons to wrap-up. “I’m proud of the response,” Carder noted.

The maintenance job description has been rewritten; maintenance staff will begin responding to calls on a paid basis while on shift.

Caleb Kropf was praised for assisting with numerous information technology issues, and Paul Ondr was thanked for his overall assistance. “The entire paid staff has knocked themselves out to accommodate the transition,” the Chief’s report said.

Credit card receipt submission from staff has been excellent, with no issues. Paid staff lunches have been discontinued.

Crawford spoke at DOLA hearings for the Gaming Impact Grant. He noted that the department should hear in December if all or part of the grant was awarded. The grant has a 25 percent match.

$13,000 had been received from DOLA for the 2013-14 Gaming Impact Grant for roadway safety equipment; a remaining $22,000 will be requested soon.

27 SCBA’s (breathing apparatus), masks, and 54 bottles were delivered on September 26 pursuant to a FEMA/AFG grant.

Automated external defibrillator (AED) pads have been updated, and servicing on the older pads will occur shortly and placed in service. All trucks will have an AED by the end of October.

Crawford noted that funds from a UASI security grant for a trailer are expected “any day.” The grant has a $5,000 match, which TFPD needs to give up front.

Trucks will be outfitted and inventoried by January 1, 2015. They are currently 75 percent complete. Issues occurring with accessing the inventory system should be resolved by the end of October.

Locks have been replaced or security codes changed at all stations.

Executive Session

The Board went into executive session at 7:30 p.m. regarding contract negotiations with former Chief Jennings. The regular meeting reconvened at 8:10 p.m.

Station 2 Costs

Discussions had begun with Gilpin Ambulance regarding utility costs at Station 2, where an ambulance is housed. Preparation of an Intergovernmental Agreement was suggested.

2015 Draft Budget

The Board reviewed a draft budget for 2015. As of October 15, the budget is available for public viewing on the TFPD website, timberlinefire.com, under the “Board of Directors” heading. The budget is also available for viewing at Station 3.

Projections are as follows:

Beginning general fund balance – $267,147. Revenues – $483,880. Expenditures – $591,160. TABOR reserve – $17,735. Ending fund balance – $159,866.

Beginning capital fund balance – $234,263. Revenues – $392,987. Expenditures – $428,678. TABOR reserve – $12,860. Ending fund balance – $198,572.

Ondr noted that the 2015 budget shows $107,000 in deficit spending. “This is not acceptable,” he said.

The 2014 budget projects a $40,000 deficit.

The property tax summary showed a total assessed property valuation of $80,084,723 for 2015, with a mill levy of 8.342. That is the same levy as 2013 and 2014. Total property tax income is projected at $668,067.

Crawford noted that the department has paid for a detailed report on the valuation from the Gilpin Assessor. After trying for six months, TFPD is still not getting what has been asked for.

“It’s 12 million dollars over what they gave in the certification notice,” he commented. “I’m getting frustrated, to say the least.”

The valuation that came out in 2013 was $65 million. The preliminary valuation comes out each August, and a final valuation comes out in November. TFPD is attempting to get the report in order to complete budget planning.

Expenditure increases from 2014 are budgeted for technology services, training, hiring costs, insurance, wages and payroll taxes, cleaning at Stations 3 and 7, and rent at Station 9.

However, decreases are planned in legal services, service awards, business meals, supplies, uniforms, computers, medical supplies, and vehicle supplies.

The chief’s salary and benefits for 2013 were $108,654; those are estimated at $84,320 for 2014 and at $115,200 for 2015.

The capital replacement fund showed an estimate of $392,987 in income, including property taxes from Gilpin and Boulder Counties and proceeds from truck and equipment sales. Debt service on $1.263 million in lease payments for truck purchases included $116,891 in principal and $26,273 in interest. Costs for station upgrade construction were expected to go down from $91,011 in 2014 to $57,000 in 2015. General equipment, which went up from $4,391 in 2013 to $220,000 in 2014, was expected to decrease to $45,500 in 2015. The projected expense for truck replacement and upgrades was $175,000, up from $72,916 in 2014, but down from $1,912,666 in 2013.

Revenues from the pension fund show a downward trend, from $329,023 in 2013 to $143,460 estimated for 2014, to $98,221 estimated for 2015. A large portion of this has been a decreasing return on pension investment, from 15.6 percent in 2013 to a projected 4.0 percent in 2015, plus a decrease in general fund and state matching contributions. Expenditures for fees and benefit payments are anticipated to rise slightly, from $153,500 estimated for 2014 to $156,860 estimated for 2015.

Upcoming Meetings

A workshop will be held Tuesday, October 21, at 6:30 p.m. at Station 7, 14908 Highway 119, to receive input from firefighters on the direction of staffing in the department, to be followed by training.

A special meeting will be held Wednesday, October 29 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. regarding the 2015 budget at Station 3, 660 Highway 46.

The next regular meeting will be held Monday, November 10 at 7 p.m. at Station 3.

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