South Whidbey fire commissioners approve budget

Fire Chief Rusty Palmer works on the district’s 2014 budget.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Fire Chief Rusty Palmer works on the district’s 2014 budget.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

Revenue is projected to slightly dip for South Whidbey Fire/EMS next year.

Depending on how much money the district has in its end-of-year operations savings, the district may have $13,000 less to spend in 2014 than it did this year.

Commissioners of South Whidbey’s fire protection district approved a budget of $3 million in revenue — that includes a 1 percent increase to the Fire/EMS levy — and $4.13 million in expenditures. The 1 percent lift is allowed under state law to keep pace with inflation and will bring in about $27,000 for the fire district.

“That’s really flat,” said Chief Rusty Palmer.

The big expenditure of 2014 may be the construction of a $1.3 million administration facility in Bayview. About $1 million would be paid for with money from the district’s capital fund — a special pot reserved for new construction and other related projects.

But while the cost of building the district’s new headquarters has been penciled into the budget, construction next year remains iffy. Palmer had the project redesigned and said he expected to look over reworked plans around the end of the year.

“Bayview’s been a 10-year project, so far,” Commission Chairman Mike Helland said. “We’ve come a long ways on that. We’re still looking at ways to bring it to fruition.”

South Whidbey Fire/EMS’s budget could slightly change by January as the district will have more financial information to analyze, including any leftover funds which could roll into 2014 or be placed in the district’s capital fund.

Currently, the district is projecting about $39,000 in end-of-year operations savings. Should the figure climb much higher, the district will need to look at its revenue again, Palmer said.

“If we’re $15,000 short, we’re going to cut that,” he said. “If we’re $150,000 short, we’re going to have to look at changing the capital fund.”

At the end of 2012, about $30,000 was left in the operations fund.

“We’re really penny-pinching at the moment,” Palmer said.

South Whidbey’s fire commissioners will look at the budget again in January for final approval.


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