December 11, 2008 in Voices

Budget OK’d by Newman Lake Fire

Staff writer
 

Newman Lake Fire and Rescue has adopted a 2009 budget that makes good commissioners’ promise to establish a capital reserve fund.

Next year’s $774,840 budget includes a $100,000 set-aside for future capital needs.

Commissioners cited the need to build reserves to replace worn-out trucks and construct a new headquarters when they persuaded voters to authorize a tax increase in August.

District residents gave 52.3 percent support to a proposal to allow commissioners to restore a property tax rate that had eroded to the lowest in Spokane County.

However, instead of the statutory maximum of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2009, fire commissioners asked voters for only $1.10. Spokane County levy specialist Connie Kline estimates that will produce about $334,900 for the district next year.

Previously, the district had been collecting slightly less than 69 cents per thousand because of a 1 percent limit on annual budget increases and rising property values.

After adding in $151,983 from an emergency medical service levy of nearly 50 cents per $1,000 and $74,025 from a bond measure, the district’s property tax next year is expected to total $560,908.

With the capital reserve, next year’s $774,840 budget is up $276,906, or 59.2 percent, from this year’s $467,934. However, the new budget includes a $58,700 contingency fund in case projected revenue falls short.

In fact, Kline said her current estimates are more than $36,000 lower than those on which the district based its budget. Newman Lake Fire and Rescue and other taxing districts around the county may have to adjust their budgets downward.

In addition to property taxes, Newman Lake fire commissioners hope to receive $33,985 in grants next year.

The budget includes a year’s salary for Chief Keith Yamane, who started work Oct. 1 at slightly more than $60,000 a year. The district had been without a full-time chief since February.

Yamane said next year’s anticipated revenue is $664,578, which is $80,262 less than projected spending. He said most of the difference will come from money to be carried forward from this year’s budget.

Newman Lake Fire and Rescue, also known as Spokane County Fire District 13, is a volunteer force that serves more than 5,200 permanent residents in 22 square miles around its namesake lake.

John Craig may be contacted at johnc@spokesman.com.


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