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City, town of Milton will see fire bills drop

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Stacy Vogel
October 14, 2008
— The city and town of Milton will see a 20 percent drop in their fire department bills in 2009, according to a budget passed by the Milton Joint Fire Commission last week.

The commission approved the budget Wednesday, but the final numbers weren’t available from Chief Loren Lippincott until Saturday.


The budget calls for a 3 percent drop in expenses and a 14 percent increase in revenue, mostly from increased contractual fees the department expects to collect from surrounding townships.


As a result, the amount the city and town each will be expected to contribute will drop from $199,000 in 2008 to $159,000 in 2009.


The biggest budget expense came from capital expenses. In 2008, the department made the final $89,000 payment on a new engine. It also spent $29,000 to repair another truck and $20,000 to remodel the station’s sleeping quarters.


In 2009, the biggest capital expense will be $25,000 to establish a vehicle replacement fund. The fund was recommended by Lippincott and a consultant study from Virchow Krause.


Lippincott’s proposed budget included a 10 percent drop in expenses, but the commission approved the addition of a $1-an-hour stipend for firefighters and EMTs for on-call shifts. Volunteers typically are on call one weekend a month.


The budget also includes an increase in contractual fees for surrounding towns. The department covers all or parts of Harmony, Johnstown, Lima and Koshkonong townships.


The Harmony fee went up most, jumping from $9,000 to $26,000 for fire protection. Other increases were less drastic, and the fee for the town of Lima actually dropped $200.


Lippincott used a formula to decide the new fees based on population, property values, call volume and other elements, said Sue Gavigan, commission chairwoman.


Roger Fanning, Harmony town chairman, said the town board hasn’t seen the fee increase, but it knew one was coming.


“We expected an increase, but we were hoping it wouldn’t be that big,” he said.


The town tries to negotiate fire contracts, but it realizes the fire department has costs, too, he said.


Lippincott also included an analysis of per capita department costs for each municipality. The town of Milton will pay the highest rate in 2009 at $53 per resident, with the town of Lima paying the least at $14 per resident. The city of Milton will pay $28 per resident.


But officials have said population alone isn’t necessarily a fair way to divide fire costs. Other factors, such as property value, area, call volume and types of calls also come into play, they said.


PER CAPITA COSTS

Per capita costs for fire and EMS protection in 2009:


Town of Milton: $53.23


Town of Koshkonong: $37.10


City of Milton: $28.49


Town of Harmony: $20.18


Town of Johnstown: $17.57


Town of Lima: $14.26


Source: Milton Joint Fire Department
MILTON FIRE BUDGET

A look at the 2009 budget for the Milton Joint Fire Department, including EMS:


Budget


Next year: $631,000


This year: $650,000


Decrease: 2.9%


Revenue


Next year: $313,000


This year: $274,000


Increase: 14%


City/town portion


Next year: $159,000 each


This year: $199,000 each


Decrease: 20.2%


Note: Percent changes calculated on whole numbers.

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