Vote ‘No’ on South Fire bud­get

The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT) - - OPINION -

The South Fire Dis­trict Board of Fire Com­mis­sion­ers has voted to bring for­ward yet an­other bud­get that in­creases spend­ing and the re­sult­ing tax bur­den on home own­ers, renters and busi­nesses of the dis­trict.

Missed op­por­tu­ni­ties for spend­ing re­duc­tions in the pro­posed 2017-18 dis­trict bud­get in­clude com­mis­sion­ers com­pen­sa­tion of $9,000 or a $45,000 drain on the dis­trict lim­ited re­sources over the next five years, new staff ve­hi­cle $35,985 and a ques­tion­able con­tin­gency line item of $50,000.

Ad­di­tion­ally, re­place­ment/ call backs, es­sen­tially overtime, is pro­posed to in­crease from $170,000 to $200,000.

Most alarm­ing is that the com­mis­sion acted to delete all rev­enue from the line item of mu­nic­i­pal grants and rev­enue shar­ing. The present bud­get in­cludes $100,000.

To elim­i­nate such rev­enue as­sump­tions and while lim­ited risk may ex­ist dur­ing these dif­fi­cult fis­cal times, dis­trict tax­pay­ers will have been over­taxed if any amount of this rev­enue is in-fact re­ceived. To mit­i­gate any risk, the dis­trict could have de­vel­oped a sim­ple ex­pense re­duc­tion con­tin­gency plan.

From a fis­cal ste­ward­ship per­spec­tive and with­out ques­tion, the dis­trict bud­gets have a his­tory of sig­nif­i­cant sur­pluses, which would in­di­cate am­ple op­por­tu­nity to eas­ily pro­vide tax­payer re­lief while ef­fec­tively main­tain­ing cur­rent ser­vice lev­els and ex­cel­lent ser­vices pro­vided by dis­trict fire­fight­ers.

Please vote “no,” but most im­por­tantly, be sure to vote Tues­day, April 25, from 6 a.m. to 8 the South Dis­trict fire­house. — Dan Pen­ney, Mid­dle­town

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