Sun City area residents will have their chance to comment on the fire district budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year later this month.
The Sun City Fire District Board of Directors adopted the proposed budget during its May 26 regular meeting. The next step in the process will be a public hearing and final approval. This will come in the board’s next regular business meeting, 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 23 in the district administrative building, 18602 N. 99th Ave. The meeting will also be available through a Zoom conference digital meeting.
Call 623-874-2321 for information about accessing the meeting.
Expenses for the Sun City Fire District are projected to increase about 5.7% and fire officials adjusted their proposed 2020-21 budget accordingly.
District officials proposed a budget with $15.29 million in expenses and corresponding income. That compares to the $14.53 million budget approved for the 2019-20 fiscal year.
Gabe Buldra, the district’s contracted finance director, said the nearly $1 million upward adjustment in the budget is related mostly to cost increases for pensions and health insurance for employees.
“The Public Safety Personnel Retirement System rates will be about 3.5% higher and health insurance premiums will go up 7%,” he told the board during its April 27 regular meeting, conducted through the meeting app Zoom.
The increased budget also includes pay increases for staff, a step increase for all those who are eligible and a 1.6% cost of living adjustment for all staff, according to Mr. Buldra. The district will also see increased costs for dispatching services through the Phoenix central dispatch station. District officials will also see increased costs for recruitment and retention of employees, and for EMS supplies.
Mr. Buldra said the district will see a slight revenue increase as there is a projected 4.19% increase in property assessed value. But that bump will not be enough to cover the increased expenses, he added.
“Our non-levy (property tax) revenue we are projecting to be much the same, except for wildland fire because that is so unpredictable,” Mr. Buldra said.
He had also included an added position for assistant chief in the budget proposal, but board member Tim Wilmes believed that should be delayed.
“We should put that off until the end of the year to see where we are in the budget at that time,” he said.
Mr. Buldra, during the May 19 workshop meeting, said that adjustment was made in the budget and the projected funds for the position were shifted to tuition reimbursement and contingency.
“But we will look at that again, probably in January, and can add it back in if the money becomes available, which I believe it will,” said Dave Scott, board chairman, May 19.
Mr. Wilmes also said repair costs for district vehicles and equipment have been on a downward trend, but officials are planning for them to rise eventually. The fire department, through a number of purchases over the past three years, now has a newer fleet of vehicles, which means less repairs. But as those vehicles age, the need for repair and maintenance increases.
“We are staying on top of the repair needs so the costs do not go up too much,” Mr. Buldra said.