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Full Staffing Fire Board Approves Budget
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Showing a 3.6 percent increase from last year, the Escalon Consolidated Fire Protection District has a new budget in place for the 2008-2009 fiscal year. It includes a 3.18 percent cost of living adjustment for employees and was approved at the Thursday night, June 12 session of the fire board.

Final budget figure adopted was $1,086,175.

"We are driven off of a small Proposition 13 base and a tax override that is in place," Fire Chief Rick Mello said of where the department obtains its operating revenues. "Our guaranteed income comes from property taxes. We're not part of the city, so we don't actually get funds from the city (budget)."

Additional fees are generated from fire facility fees assessed on new construction and Mello said the budget figures show about 69 percent of the budget is going to personnel costs.

"That is actually pretty low, many cities it's closer to 89, 90 percent," he noted. "We also have about 10 percent of it going to workers compensation and liability."

Other funds are dedicated for equipment purchases and maintenance, training, dispatch fees and more.

"Some of it also has to go to fuel, which obviously is increasing as we speak," Mello said of the cost of keeping the equipment running.

Board members voted 3-0 to approve the budget, with Andy Dugo, John Wright and Joe Azzopardi the three on hand for the meeting. Two members were absent but a simple majority was needed for the approval.

"We did the preliminary budget in May," Mello explained of working with the board over the last several weeks, putting the financial picture together.

The new fiscal year starts on July 1 and Mello said he is pleased that, with the hiring of former reserve Gerardo Preciado as a fulltime paid firefighter as of July 6, the department will be at full staffing.

"We'll have three people on each shift," Mello said.