Wellington City Council approves 2015 budget: No mill levy increase; changes in budget explained; why 3 new Fire/EMT employees …

first_imgby Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — The Wellington City Council unanimously approved a 51.526 mill levy for the 2015 Budget at Tuesday’s meeting which is the same levy as it is in 2014.Buoyed by an estimated increased assessed valuation of $41,980,876 for the community, the council was afforded some flexibility without raising taxes. In 2014, the valuation is $41.4 million and in 2013 it was $41.7 million. See budget figures here:Notice of Budget Hearing 2014The overall budget included a general fund levy decrease of 3.406 mills. The ambulance and fire department remained the same at 2.0. Bond and Interest increased 2.85 and library increased .556.Interim City Manager Shane Shields said the bond and interest increase was necessary to meet the existing bond principle and interest payment from the 2013 Lincoln Ave. improvements. The Library increase was necessary to fund the budget of $225,284. The governing body is required by Kansas Statute to levy for the amount determined by the board with a maximum 5-mill limit in place from a 1982 Charter Ordinance.The specific budgetary changes are as follows:GENERAL FUNDPersonnel changes:•Fire Department – The city will not be replacing an assistant chief/safety officer due to retirement. The council added three firefighter/EMT positions. The net cost increase in wages is $67,242. Among the benefits includes: better safety in fighting fires; reducing the overtime costs; and it will help ensure and maintain a lower ISO rating received this year.•Lake Department – There will be a change of a part-time to a full-time employee for a cost of $14,839. It will reduce overtime costs and provide more patrolling hours of the lake recreation area especially during the busy summer months.•Street Department – There is an addition of one seasonal laborer position costing the city about $3,907. The city needs increased mowing area at the airport.Several requests from the police, street, and information technology was not approved.COLA/Merit:A two percent salary increase for the employees were budgeted. However, the exact amount is to be determined before 2015 year whether as COLA or Merit pool or a combination of both. In any option it is not to exceed two percent.Contingency fund:This fund which is for unintended expenses i.e. emergencies is at $1.23 million. Of that $750,000 is potentially assigned leaving $525,980 unassigned. To reach the goal of contingency funding equal to 15 percent of expenditures would require $1.15 million.Transfers:There was $162,500 transferred from the general fund to equipment reserve and $281,000 from the general fund to capital improvements.CAPITAL EXPENDITURES: Equipment reserve fund:The city has budgeted for a combination fire engine/tender truck to replace two existing trucks – a 1997 engine and 1989 tender. The typical lifespan of the engine in the department is 15 to 18 years. The 1997 fire engine has recently needed significant repairs, Shields said. Purchasing a combination truck to serve both function will save about $100,000 including $25,000 for ambulance replacement and $24,000 for outdoor warning siren replacement with the intent to build the dollars needed to assist when replacement is needed. The ambulance runs every 8 to 10 years, eight sirens in 2021 at the cost of $192,000.Capital improvement fund:This fund includes $177,090 for future Klink and Geometric Improvement projects on U.S. 81 from Harvey to Botkin. It includes $55,000 for a study to address maintenance of the Woods Park Dam.•••••Fire/EMS 2015 Budget Justification:Sumner Newscow asked for a justification of three new firefighter/EMTs for the 2015 budget. A rumor that has been floating around that the Fire/EMT staff has been increased in anticipation that Sumner Regional Medical Center might close and they need additional employees to transport patients to Wichita. Shields said this is not the case. Here is a written explanation by Shields about the employee changes:“We are adding three new Firefighter/EMT’s to our staff. This would change our shift numbers from present full staffing of 5 to 6. We would work down to four on occasion e.g. transfers to Wichita and on county EMS calls and some county Fire calls.During the last two years our call volume has increased. Especially EMS calls which are due to many factors. Those are an older population, obesity, higher incident of drug and alcohol abuse, mental health issues, transfers to Wichita hospitals, increased traffic on the Turnpike, a trend nationally to more cases of diabetes and other medical problems. The increase in calls will continue as the baby boomer population ages. The use of 911 overall has been used more for just about everything as the public relies more on Fire/EMS to provide emergency and non-emergency services.We have problems getting off duty personnel to come back to the station for overtime. Some of the reasons I have been told are family issues, and burned out because of too much call in. Presently staff accumulates an average of 202 hours per person annually, due to standby and coming back to the station off duty for overtime. That is another 8.5 shifts for a firefighter or 5 weeks for a 40 hour employee. Several cite the mandatory standby requirements as a morale factor. Presently we require personnel to devote to 12 hour standby slots Friday evening through Sunday evening and on holidays. They get paid one hour of overtime, are the first to be called in typically for transfers to Wichita and must stay within 15 minutes of Wellington during that 12 hour period.We have difficulty getting sufficient numbers at large incidents such as structure fires and hazardous materials events. Our closest reliable mutual aid source is Belle Plaine. Their response time is at least 15 minutes. That seems forever when you are waiting on resources.Safety and efficiency-we work with less staffing than about any other paid department in the state, and on top of that we also run EMS. Have we learned to be more efficient with 4 or 5 staff? Yes, but those low numbers also mean we setup slower, take more risks, and work longer and harder causing exhaustion issues. For example Wichita puts 16-18 firefighters on scene for a typical house fire within a few minutes, Derby, Winfield and Ark City with higher staffing and close mutual aid resources can put 12-16 firefighters on scene within 10 minutes. We average 10 firefighters including mutual aid resources on structure fires. It usually takes 15 minutes to assemble those 10. Our next reliable mutual aid resources are over 20 minutes away. NFPA standards ask for 4 firefighters in 4 minutes and 15 firefighters in 8 minutes. Below is a graph of staffing, area covered and population of paid departments around the state.”Follow us on Twitter. Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! Close message Login This blog post All blog posts Subscribe to this blog post’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Subscribe to this blog’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Follow the discussion Comments (6) Logging you in… Close Login to IntenseDebate Or create an account Username or Email: Password: Forgot login? Cancel Login Close WordPress.com Username or Email: Password: Lost your password? Cancel Login Dashboard | Edit profile | Logout Logged in as Admin Options Disable comments for this page Save Settings Sort by: Date Rating Last Activity Loading comments… You are about to flag this comment as being inappropriate. Please explain why you are flagging this comment in the text box below and submit your report. The blog admin will be notified. Thank you for your input. +5 Vote up Vote down Voodoo Child · 312 weeks ago In my opinion we could still use more manpower in the fire department if anything the city needs to think about the safety of the firemen already on the job. Report Reply 0 replies · active 312 weeks ago +3 Vote up Vote down guest 1 · 312 weeks ago I would hope the city is looking at the possible closing of the hospital. It might take a couple of years to get an urgent care type facility to come in and make some money when the voters turn down the 1 cent sales tax. I would vote for a 1 cent tax if I thought it would secure a business that was going to get started, meet our cities needs and not need tax dollars to make a business work. I’m sure there hasn’t been any reaching out to anyone or thought about what if the monies dried up to keep this money pit going. Just look at the Doctors that practiced there. They abandoned it. They are in the business to make money as we all are, it wasn’t a good business decision to keep vesting in this facility. Decisions shouldn’t be made from fear. Fear should fuel looking at alternatives that benefit our community.. Report Reply 0 replies · active 312 weeks ago +4 Vote up Vote down Crusader Pride · 311 weeks ago guest 1…the doctors did not abandoned the hospital…one retired and one still is on the board and works within with the elderly patients on the second floor. We need to stop and think how many people you want to kick out of a job….so more people move away and taxes again are spread across fewer people. Instead of looking how to close why not figure out how to expand services. Get all the doctors on board and using what we have local. Have the city try and bring in even more business….even if it means bending over backwards. Get agressive in the recruitment of business to this town. Report Reply 1 reply · active 311 weeks ago +5 Vote up Vote down Hmmm…… · 311 weeks ago I would agree! Guest 1 have you need to be looking at the type of people served in an urgent care type facility. The uninsured and under insured. The ER is where a lot of the money lost or bad debt happens in a hospital. People cannot be turned away even if they should have gotten up and went to their clinic appointment instead of sleeping through it or not making one at all. Again you will pay either for the hospital or the fire department. It’s GOING to fall on us one way or the other. Report Reply +3 Vote up Vote down notderby · 311 weeks ago Wow! Kinda looks like this town is burning down if you look at those numbers. Wellington has had more fire calls then Ark City and Great Bend put together??? I wonder if those are actual fire calls or is that just the Fire truck following the Ambulance on EMS runs?? Just wondering. Wasn’t the County talking about doing something EMS?? There is always 2 sides to the coin. It would be nice if they didn’t have to budget $200K a yr for overtime. If NEEDED go for it. Here are some other interesting numbers. Pop protected 5,000 to 9,999 Career Firefighter 21,600 Volunteer FF 104,000 Total FF 125,600 http://www.nfpa.org/~/media/files/research/nfpa%2… Report Reply 0 replies · active 311 weeks ago +7 Vote up Vote down Voodoo Child · 311 weeks ago Our fire department have been at dangerously low levels for a long time. Fortunately for the city and the department no loss of life has occurred among the ranks. We have the good fortune of a paid professional fire ems department on duty 24/7 rain or shine. We need to bring the level of manpower for the fire department in line with what is considered safe for field operations for firefighters before we lose a fireman. Saving lives is important no matter what side the fence. Report Reply 0 replies · active 311 weeks ago Post a new comment Enter text right here! 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