Will the city rehabilitate the Venice Road fire station, relocate, or just shut it down entirely? A serious assessment must be done including gathering statistics to support keeping the station open. Since the overpass has been completed, is there even a need to keep the station open?
Right now, the city would like to take $500,000 out of the EMS fund to help pay for the salaries of the fire fighters who are being paid by a grant, which is no longer available. The EMS fund was set up to pay for equipment, supplies, and paying down the debt on the fire vehicles. Even though the EMS fund has approximately $2 million in the fund, it doesn’t justify having to take salaries and benefits out of the EMS account.
The city seems to be fudging the budget short fall numbers by moving money from one fund to another fund. Moving $500,000 out of the EMS fund to appease the budget numbers doesn’t always work out, eventually, it will catch up to the city somewhere down the line.
A good example of setting up funds for specific funding is the street fund. A license plate tax was implemented so money would be available to rehabilitate the streets. Somehow, the street maintenance salaries shifted from the general fund to the street fund leaving very little left over for street improvements while freeing up money in the general fund. Could the same thing happen if the city would ask for a fire levy? A fire levy would be easier to pass compared to an income tax increase.
Until next week, the city needs to make a decision that will do less damage to the budget and the taxpayers’ wallets. Will the city take the easy way out and ask the taxpayers to pick up the budget short fall in the way of a tax increase, or will it cut spending? It all comes down to managing the money in an efficient manner.