NACFD finds way to give 2 percent raise to employees

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KINGMAN – The Northern Arizona Consolidated Fire District board of directors got along well enough Thursday to approve a $3.1 million budget that includes staffing Station 33 on Stockton Hill Road 24 hours a day by October or November.

The station was one of three NACFD fire stations closed during the recession when revenue fell from $5 million to about $2 million and staff was reduced by 50 percent.

The budget also includes a 2 percent pay raise for employees, and $177,000 in Public Safety Pension Retirement System refunds.

The board voted unanimously to accept the budget prepared by interim Fire Chief Wayne Eder, who mentioned a couple of budget issues that needed to be addressed before the vote.

First was insurance coverage for the fire district, which expired July 1 and was extended for a week. Three companies were vying for the insurance contract, and two of them submitted bids, Eder said.

Volunteer Firemen’s Insurance Service, the current insurer, set a premium of $50,800, while Provident FirePlus came in at $42,000 for comparable coverage.

Eder said he asked VFIS to come down on the price because they’ve been with the fire district for a while, but he was turned down.

“I recommend Provident because it’s comparable and it helps the budget,” the fire chief said. “Dollar for dollar, coverage is the same.”

The board voted 4-1 to go with Provident, with Jim Bailey opposed. He said he would have liked to see a presentation from both insurance companies comparing what they will cover.

Board member Mike Collins had emailed Eder with “minor budget issues,” and they met and worked it out.

The fire district will be spending the same amount it’s taking in, not counting capital outlays, which require a vote on bids, Eder said.

One of Collins’ concerns was uncollectible revenue on the district’s tax revenue, which is increasing to $3.12 from $3. The maximum is $3.25.

“We’ve got it at 5 percent uncollectible, which I think is fair,” Collins said.

“I think it’s a great budget and you did a great job,” board member Sue Wilkin told the chief.

Eder said he filed a grant application with the U.S. Fire Administration to replace a 1980 Mack water tender. They cost about $240,000, and the district would pay about 5 percent to 10 percent of the cost.

“They look at savings,” Eder said. “They’re reviewing our financing documents. Because of our capital reserve, it could be a problem.”

NACFD currently owns two water tenders, and one of them has been out of service for about six months, Eder said. The other truck only holds 3,000 to 3,500 gallons of water, deficient of the 4,000 gallons required by the Insurance Services Office.