SHERIDAN - The Sheridan fire district proposed budget was presented before a nearly empty room at a public hearing Tuesday.
No residents turned out to hear the budget proposal, which represents an increase in funds by about $4,600 over last year's budget and will require about $243,000.
Commission board member Kathy Keddie said it's the "smallest percentage" annual increase of which she was aware.
Chairman Jim Crowell agreed and said it was a low increase. He added last year's budget exceeded the tax cap structure, but this year's budget was well under a 2 percent increase.
The total budget appropriates $252,605 and is largely comprised of contractual expenses and the building mortgage, as well as a reserve fund for future truck expenses.
About 40 percent of the budget is appropriated for the building mortgage expenses. The 30-year mortgage has 25 years of payments remaining.
Contractual expenses take up 25 percent of the budget, which include many government-mandated safety and other measures.
Crowell explained the mandates.
"We are an employer, so we have to provide everything an employer would," to comply with safety requirements, many set forth by OSHA, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA requires annual physicals for firefighters over age 40, which Crowell explained is most of the paid staff. Firefighting protective equipment costs about $1,600 per firefighter, Crowell said. "It all has to fit properly and be maintained," he said, and pointed out many protective items such as air packs expire after a period of time so require regular replacement. The department plans to budget three air packs, which cost roughly $1,100 each, annually as replacements. Each air pack is designed to last 15 years and is part of the breathing apparatus for firefighting.
Other contractual expenses include pumper truck tests required by the New York State Fire Protection Association which cost about $3,000 and inspections, which cost about $500 a year, according to Crowell.
Thirty percent of the contractual expenses are related to insurance, and 27 percent related to the maintenance and upkeep of the buildings and grounds. Crowell said an outside service must inspect the fire alarm system in the fire department building as would be required for any other municipal building, so some mandated expenses cannot be cut by performing the services by the department. Crowell said the amount for contractual expenses in the total budget has been reduced as low as possible.
About 17 percent of the total budget is set aside as a reserve fund for future truck purchases and scheduled maintenance.
The proposed budget was approved by the fire district last night and will next be presented to the Sheridan Town Board to be integrated into the town budget.
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