Tuesday, May 1, 2012

In budget talks, city plans to buy new van for fire department, give firefighters a small raise

By Alex Ruf
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

During last week’s initial discussions of next year’s budget, the Midway City Council heard plans to purchase a new van for the fire department and raise firefighters’ pay a bit. The council will continue discussions on the budget in a special meeting at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow.

The city plans to purchase the new van, and a new mower for the cemetery, before the new fiscal year begins July 1. The $37,000 for the van and the $1,000 $6,000 for the mower will come from the city’s contingency fund, which is not otherwise allocated to divisions of government and is projected to be $107,550 next year, out of a total general-fund budget of $995,150.

City Clerk-Treasurer Phyllis Hudson and Mayor Tom Bozarth suggested using this contingency money for the van and mower, and perhaps to pay off the fire truck obtained from the state and other leased equipment.

“I feel our fire department is deserving of this and does a great job for the citizens of Midway, and we need to do anything we can do to give the them the tools and the means to achieve that great responsibility.” Bozarth said. The fire department asked for the van this year to replace one that is 20 years old and in poor condition, he said.

Bozarth’s proposed budget for the new fiscal year includes the van, which would be mainly responsible for an increase the fire department budget to $113,926 from $70,950 this year, but not if the contingency money is used.

The fire department personnel budget would rise to $24,000 from $18,000 as firefighters’ pay for attending monthly training meetings would rise to $35 from $30. The pay raise is designed in part to help recruit more firefighters.

This year Midway has not received its usual state grant of $8,250 for the fire department bevause it is one firefighter short of the minimum needed. To get the grant, the department must have 13 fire fighters and a fire chief, and Midway only has 12 firefighters and a chief. Council members said they plan to advertise in the city newsletter and hope that or word of mouth brings in a new recruit.

Another state grant, $5,000 for a tree nursery has been awarded and will be matched by the city. This grant is designed for Midway to grow young trees that can be used in the cemetery, parks and other places around town. Larry Hanks, Midway’s arborist, applied for the grant and is overseeing it.

This grant will lead to some of the trees being cut down to make room for new ones. A few trees in the cemetery will have to be moved, and any Midway resident will be able to buy them at a discount.

The cemetery also was another topic of discussion at the April 25 council meeting. Though the proposed budget includes the new mower, the budget for the cemetery would go down from $162,553, to $156,601.

Another point of discussion was the house on the cemetery grounds. The house is in poor condition, and is vacant. The future of this house is up in the air. The city is accepting bids on contracts to renovate the house into a more livable condition. There are also talks about tearing down the house or turning it into a chapel.

Other proposed changes to the budget include:
  • The addition of $3,000 $30,000 for snow removal, which is being done by the county at a charge rather than free now that Midway is a fourth-class city. One snow removal last winter cost only $1,233, but Bozarth said the city has no way of knowing how much snow will come.
  • Police will cost an additional $5,000 this year, due to gas prices.
  • Planning and zoning would get an additional $4,000 for salaries.

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