The Sun City Fire and Medical Department now has a final budget to work with the for the 2020-21 fiscal year.
The Sun City Fire District Board of Directors unanimously approved the proposed budget during its June 23 regular 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 approved 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.
The June 23 meeting included a public hearing, in which Sun City resident Karen Partridge asked about income the district received from sales of property and equipment that she did not see in the basic budget document. Ron Deadman, Sun City fire chief, explained the district received about $200,000 by selling the former Station 133 on 111th Avenue south of Grand Avenue and another $50,000 for the sale of a ladder truck.
Ms. Partridge also wanted to know about maintenance expense.
“You bought new trucks, so I would expect that your maintenance costs will go down,” she said.
Mr. Deadman agreed, and explained the district’s maintenance costs decreased 35% since the new vehicles were purchased.
“All of that — the sales and maintenance — are reflected in the budget,” he said.
However, district maintenance remains a cost item, according to Gabe Buldra, district finance director.
“Because of the mileage we put on our vehicles, we still have significant maintenance costs,” he said.
Regarding the approved budget, Mr. Buldra 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 when the proposed budget was presented in April.
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.