Rising costs, aging equipment, and increasing calls for service are behind the Allen-Clay Joint Fire District’s request for a replacement levy on the November ballot, says chief Bruce Moritz.
A public meeting to discuss the upcoming 5-mill levy will be held Oct. 8 at 6 p.m. at the district’s administration office, 3155 N. Genoa-Clay Center Rd.
The district – a consolidation of individual fire departments - was established in December, 1999 to service the villages of Clay Center and Genoa and Allen and Clay townships.
Voters approved a continuous levy to support the district but expenses have reached a point that the $585,000 in annual revenues generated by the levy don’t keep pace with rising expenses, said chief Moritz.
A replacement levy would be based on current real estate valuations instead of valuations from the year 2000, when the levy was approved by voters.
The district has enacted a wage freeze for staff members for 2010 and cut spending to “bare essentials,” he said.
Some examples of increasing costs, the chief said, are:
• Repair/maintenance of equipment - $21,642 in 2003; $54,912 in 2008
• Worker compensation - $28,585 in 2003; $58,623 in 2008
• Electricity - $7,935 in 2003; $12,094 in 2008
Run volume climbed to 1,022 in 2008 from 828 in 2002.
Chief Moritz said the average age of first-responder fire engines is 19 years old and district officials would like to gradually replace them as well as upgrade facilities.
A primary objective for consolidating the individual fire departments into a joint district was to be able to offer 24-hour paramedic service.
The chief said the district has been able to meet that goal as there has been paramedic coverage on 99.4 percent of all runs since the district was formed.
One paramedic response vehicle, two ambulances, and one fire engine have been purchased since the formation of the district.
The district has also realized an improvement in the Insurance Services Rating, the chief said.
In addition to covering the member villages and townships, the fire district also has a contract for service with Benton Township.