Marion County Fire District #1 posted a draft operations budget to its web site (FY 2020 Budget Document) for the 2020 Fiscal Year, which runs July 1, 2019-June 30, 2020. The public is encouraged to review and ask questions or provide comment at an upcoming meeting of the fire district’s Citizen Budget Committee on Thursday, May 16 at 5:30 p.m. at the Chemeketa Regional Training Center, Building 2, 4910 Brooklake Road NE in Salem, Ore.

“Transparency is important to maintaining community support,” said Fire Chief Kyle McMann. “We want our taxpayers to know how we use their money to save lives and property.”

Highlights from the proposed budget include hiring one single role paramedic and three additional firefighters to float and provide coverage when others are sick, on leave or vacation. It also includes setting aside money to replace apparatus and equipment instead of financing those purchases, which costs taxpayers more.

Long-term the fire district says that the cost to provide service is higher than the revenue received to provide it.

“It’s a start, but we need more firefighters,” said Chief McMann. “Response times are increasing, especially for back-to-back incidents, due to higher call volumes. The good news is that we are ahead of this trend before it becomes a problem.”

The agency wants to hire additional full-time personnel to respond to calls. Staffing and capital needs identified in the fire district’s Strategic Plan likely will require additional community funding. The fire district plans to bring a proposal to the community later this year for consideration as they plan for an election next year.

There are several steps to approve an annual budget for the fire district. Project Managers along with senior administrative staff and chief officers submitted requests and had several meetings to develop a sustainable budget for consideration by the Citizen Budget Committee. The Committee will consider the proposed budget at its May meeting. If approved, the budget is forwarded on to the Marion County Fire District #1 Board of Directors for adoption at their June meeting in anticipation 2020 Fiscal Year starting July 1, 2019. All meetings are open to the public.

Marion County Fire District #1 operates under a balanced budget and has a long history of passing its independent audits. The fire district is independent of Marion County and a separate taxing authority that has been providing emergency services since 1939. It currently serves the communities of Four Corners, Middle Grove, Pratum, Macleay, Brooklake, Clearlake, Labish Center, and Chemeketa College Station. More than 100 full-time, part-time and volunteer emergency personnel respond to 7,600 emergency calls per year.

The fire district’s budget for the next fiscal year is being considered for a Best Practices Award by the Government Finance Officers Association.