An increase is projected for the Manawa Rural Fire Department’s 2015 budget.
The preliminary budget of $173,288 was presented to the Manawa Fire Board at its Aug. 19 meeting.
It is up $20,436 from the 2014 budget of $152,852.
In presenting the preliminary budget, Fire Chief Rob Rosenau noted the largest increase was in the Vehicle Replacement Fund.
This line item increased by $25,698 due to the MRFD’s recent purchase of a rescue-tanker. The fund is set at $55,000 in 2015, compared to $29,302 in 2014.
Rosenau made minor adjustments in other areas to help lessen the impact of the truck purchase. His decision for cuts was based on actual costs for the past few years.
Over $1,000 was subtracted from the following areas: Vehicle equipment, fuel, utilities, training and office supplies.
According to Rosenau, area departments are starting to work together to keep equipment costs down.
Rosenau reported the lines need to be repainted at the fire station.
“Backing up is very tough,” he said.
Volunteers are willing to do the work if the city of Manawa provides the supplies.
Rosenau also expressed concern that the fire department has no control over the new heating and air conditioning system.
According to the building maintenance agreement, the fire and ambulance departments pay for heating and electrical for their area, which includes the fire station, meeting room and kitchen.
“We are paying for it all down there, so we should be able to have some control,” Rosenau said.
It is a computerized system, according to John Smith, Manawa mayor and one of the city’s representatives to the board.
Smith suggested that Rosenau contact Police Chief David Walker or City Clerk Cheryl Hass.
In other business, the board discussed notifying the public about keeping properties assessable to fire trucks. If emergency vehicles cannot get to a fire, they cannot fight the fire.
Rosenau said some driveways are over a mile long and provide no turnaround area for large vehicles. Other properties do not provide enough clearance for the trucks to enter.
The fire chief said MRFD members are willing to meet with anyone who is concerned about emergency access to their property.
“Everybody knows how big a fire truck is,” he said.
Ambulance Director Andy Werth asked for the Ambulance Board’s guidance before preparing a preliminary budget.
Werth anticipates a $15,000 loss in revenue for the Manawa Ambulance Service in 2015.
This projection includes the loss of about $9,000 in assessment and about $6,000 in run revenue from the town of St. Lawrence, which has opted out of the group, starting in January 2015.
“We need to try to make up that difference,” Werth said.
One option he presented was to increase the per person assessment to $1.75. This would add $9,000 to the ambulance budget.
According to Werth, the municipal assessment covers two-thirds of the department’s operating expenses.
Board President Mary Eck was not in favor of raising the assessment, because she said some people believe it is already too high.
“We want to have our own ambulance service, but we can’t have assessments we can’t afford,” Eck said.
Werth recommended increasing the stipend for ambulance personal from $60 to $80 per certain 12-hour shifts.
“The goal is to encourage weekday coverage and help maintain weekend coverage,” he said.
The other option would be to increase the per hour wage for ambulance runs, which is currently $10 per hour.
According to Werth, the stipend increase fits better with Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development rules.
Eck noted the proposed $80 per 12-hour shift is less than Manawa is paying for Clintonville personnel to fill the shifts.
Clintonville hours are decreasing as more local people are volunteering hours, Werth reported.
“We are getting more people back and it’s beginning to look better,” he said.
Werth agreed to prepare three options for the Manawa Ambulance Service’s 2015 preliminary budget in early September. This will allow board representatives to present the budget to their municipalities.