Lynne Hermansen
[email protected]
Tuesday, July 12 Fire District 1 approved holding a public hearing August 23 as they will be exceeding the revenue neutral rate.
The 2023 budget was discussed at a special meeting held June 23.
The budget will be for $11,128,906 for 2023.
Chief Meyers said increases had occurred because of 2022 shortfalls and the top priorities were to increase staff salaries and the reserve fund.
Board members said they approved of keeping the mill levy the same and a five to six percent salary increase for staff.
Connie Schmidt, board member, said the reserve fund should be built up in case a future fire station is needed and they should invest in their number one commodity—firefighters.
Ron Conus, board treasurer, said he would like to see a half mill decrease because taxes had continued to go up the last decade and an additional raise would cost the district more revenue because of benefits and overhead.
Chief Meyers said the five percent increase included benefit costs and not all employees received it. He said the next two to three years they should start seeing revenue from LPKC and could start looking at lowering the mill levy then.
Mark Burdolski, board member, said the district needs to take care of its employees and the mill levy should stay where it is currently.
Conus said keeping the mill rate at the current level raises taxes because of home value increases and doesn’t help tax players.
Randy Gregoryck, board chairman, said lowering the mill levy half a mill only saves $18 a year per taxpayer.
Schmidt said when she calls for emergency services she wants to know the police and fire departments are coming.
“Fire District 1 staff is some of the lowest paid in the county and we cannot do everything in one year to correct that,” she said. “By giving a six percent salary increase it shows how important the staff is.”
The financial report was reviewed at the July board meeting with no action taken.
Chief Meyers said overtime and IT were behind.
Staff accountant for the fire board said the budget was on track even with a few blips.
Keith Johnson, board member, said the collection of taxes was a little ahead and 92.3 percent was not too bad.
“It’s the same deficiencies we have been dealing with,” Chief Meyers said.
Gregoryck said were the 8.8 employee portion and 22.8 district portions the percentage rates.
Chief Meyers said the rates are preset by the State.
Conus said the district had a $5 million liability and what events caused the current liability.
Chief Meyers said it is a combination of paid sick leave and accumulation vacation money being put aside every year to cover for it.
“We would have to sell off assets, etc,” he said.
Conus said what if someone were to leave today.
Chief Meyers said they would pay sick leave and vacation.
“We would try to maintain balance,” he said.

Other Business
-Jayhawks Sprinkler was hired for $5,732 to service and replace the domestic back flow for Station 83. Chief Meyers said they had had backflow issues for years and it needs to be replaced.
-Dave The Painter from Gardner was hired for $14,000 to prep and paint the exterior of Station83. Chief Meyers said they wanted to get the station nicer in preparation for the Air Show and it had never been prepped correctly.
-Insulation Pros were hired for $3,700 for insulation work at Station 85. Chief Meyers said a  few months ago trees had to be taken down causing the station to lose shade and making it difficult to keep cooling even though the A/C had been replaced in 2015.
Gregoryck said did they need to take proactive steps for shade.
Meyers said he didn’t know what else the plan would be because if they planted trees right now they wouldn’t be big enough in their lifetimes to provide the immediate shade and cooling needs.