Craig Fire/Rescue adjusting 2010 budget

Revenue changes could mean $8,000 in operational cuts for 2010

During the next month, Craig Fire/Rescue will have to rework its 2010 budget to accommodate $8,000 in cuts.

The new budget was intended to be presented and approved at Thursday's Craig Rural Fire Protection District Board meeting, but a late adjustment from the Moffat County Assessor's Office forced a last minute agenda change.

Chris Nichols, board budget director and secretary/treasurer, said he discovered Thursday afternoon that the fire district's revenue was lower than previously anticipated.

The adjustment amounted to about $15,000, meaning $8,000 in operational costs for firefighters. The adjusted amount was given back to Fire Chief Bill Johnston, who will present a reworked budget at next month's meeting.

Johnston's operational budget almost is $600,000, and he said he would have to scale back spending in an already tight budget.

"It's not bad," he said. "We just have to go back and rework it. But it was already pretty tight when we built it. I'm going to have to sit down and scratch my head for a bit."

However, there are a few options of where the cuts will come from.

Most of that budget is wages for the firefighters, who are paid on a per-call basis.

However, with the call volume increasing every year, more wages need to be paid out.

"The more calls we have, the less stuff we can buy," Johnston said. "That's just life."

While the operational costs are going up, Nichols said the district's revenue is up for this year.

The revenue comes from mill levies, which have brought in about $50,000 more than 2008.

Nichols said 80 percent of that revenue comes from the energy industry.

However, he anticipates the fire district will be affected in the next few years as the mill levies are readjusted.

To head off future budget issues, Nichols said the department will ease off of its 10-year capital replacement plan, which has provided the department with three new trucks and a quarter of a million dollars in new air packs.

Nichols said the department will take a few years to build its reserve back before continuing on with the plan.

"We've had to have them back off some costs so we can replenish that reserve," he said. "The district is financially sound and stable, and we're ahead on our capital replacement plan."

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