Fire commission approves budget for 2018

From l., fire commissioners Virginia Lester, Bill Meursing and Shannon Tomsen share a congenial moment after approving the 2018 district budget. Photo by Andrew Grubb

By Meg Olson

Fire district commissioners have approved a restrained budget and an increase in transfers to reserves for 2018.

Chief Christopher Carleton presented the budget at the district’s
November 8 meeting.

Tax revenues are expected to go up by approximately $10,000 and the district is receiving refunds from the county of mistakenly collected payroll deductions, allowing for the district to transfer $23,800 into reserves in 2018 – $10,000
more than in 2017.

Expenditures will be down by $1,000 overall, primarily due to leaving the line item for an administrative captain at zero. The line item was budgeted at $18,000 in 2017 but Carleton said he had been unable to fill the position and determined it was unnecessary at the moment. The 2017 budget had a line for audit expenses at $9,500 in 2017, which is now zero for 2018. The next audit will be in 2020.

There are increases in salaries for administrative positions in the 2018 budget. Carleton’s salary, by contract, will go up $9,000 and assistant chief John Shields will see a $1,500 boost.

At the beginning of the meeting, commissioners went into executive session to discuss “financial issues, payroll issues,” commission chair Bill Meursing said. When they reconvened, Meursing said they had discussed options for increasing the salaries of district secretary Linda Hughes and finance manager Patty Markel.

Queried by the All Point Bulletin, Queried by the All Point Bulletin, Carleton later said that the executive session was a performance review and that, in accordance with the state Open Meetings Act salaries were only decided upon in open session.

Commissioners approved increasing Markel’s annual salary 16 percent 15 percent from $11,520 to $13,320 with Meursing, offering no reason, abstaining. Commissioners voted unanimously to increase Hughes’ pay 35 percent from $130 to $175 per meeting.

The two had not received raises in recent years and were due for an increase, commissioner Shannon Tomsen said.

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