The Board of Directors for Marion County Fire District #1 unanimously adopted its budget for the 2020 Fiscal Year during its meeting on June 20. A copy of the budget is available on the fire district’s web site at www.mcfd1.com. The fire district’s budget document is being considered for a Best Practices Award by the Government Finance Officers Association.
Fire Chief Kyle McMann says that he is grateful for those who participated in shaping and creating the document. Project managers, senior administrative staff and chief officers submitted funding requests and had several meetings to develop a sustainable budget. This document was forwarded on to the Citizen Budget Committee for consideration at its May meeting. The Committee approved the budget and forwarded it to the Board of Directors for adoption.
“Everyone who participated in this process acknowledges that the budget is ‘bare bones,’” said Chief McMann. “We do the best we can with the resources available to us and are grateful for the support.”
For example, the fire district needs to add full-time personnel to respond to higher call volumes, which are increasing an average of almost four percent per year. More calls and fewer volunteers or full-time personnel mean response times are starting to increase, especially for back-to-back emergencies. The FY2020 budget allows for one additional paramedic for additional staffing, but only three additional firefighters who’s role will be to fill in for those on sick leave or vacation.
“At this point, we’re using a finger to plug a dike hole,” said Chief McMann. “We need to let our community know that revenue is not keeping up with the demand for emergency services.”
The fire district completed a Strategic Plan late last year, which identified staffing and capital needs for the next five years. In addition to staffing levels, the plan calls for saving money to pay for apparatus outright as opposed to financing those purchases which costs taxpayers more. It also calls for bringing a funding proposal to the community for an election sometime in 2020.
“We are transparent in sharing information with our community in good times or bad,” said Chief McMann. “We want to maintain what we have by way of emergency service levels. That is going to require additional revenue.”
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.
Marion County Fire District #1 provides fire and emergency medical services to 50,000 people over 80 square miles. It 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 career and volunteer emergency personnel respond to over 7,600 emergency calls per year.