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Mon, Sept. 16

HVFD board approves last-minute budget

The Hualapai Valley Fire District Board debated and rejected two proposals before adopting a budget Wednesday night.

By a 3-1 vote, the board adopted fire Chief Wayne Eder's $1.914 million budget, which eliminates the positions of assistant fire chief, fire prevention specialist and an office secretary.

The budget calls for creating new positions for three battalion chiefs/shift commanders and three lead engineers and reducing captains from six to three.

The budget also will have the positions of chief, administrative assistant and three captains, three lead engineers, three engineers and nine firefighters.

Total personal comes to 23.

Each shift will include a battalion chief, captain, a lead engineer, an engineer and three firefighters on duty.

Currently the department has 23 positions: a chief, assistant fire chief, 18 firefighters who include six engineers and six captains, a secretary, an office manager and a fire prevention specialist.

The assistant chief, Jim Dykens, recently resigned to take the fire marshal position with the Bullhead City Fire Department.

Under the adopted plan, the new positions of battalion chiefs and lead engineers likely would be filled from within the department.

Staff salaries will cost $851,828 compared with $939,208 for the 2002-2003 budget.

One of the battalion chiefs will serve as fire marshal.

Shift personnel will manage fire prevention and public education programs.

Eder had proposed returning to a volunteer firefighter program and eliminating on-call firefighters, who work other jobs but are trained as firefighters and work when needed.

That issue was not discussed and will be brought up at next week's regular monthly meeting, board chairman Bill Redman said.

Board member Terri Morrison, the lone vote against the budget that was finally approved, favored an option that kept the staff at 23 personnel but reduced the number of captains from six to three.

That option would have had a budget of $1.962 million.

The number of paid on-call firefighters would have remained at 12.

Morrison renewed her concern for the elimination of the fire prevention specialist, whose job includes fire safety education especially at local schools, fire inspections of buildings, car seat education and weed inspections.

Morrison also defended fire prevention specialist Daria Stellwag's job duties against Eder and board member Ed Schrum's attempt to eliminate her position.

Stellwag is on medical leave.

She recently filed a grievance against Eder concerning excessive leave, which was resolved in her favor.

Sexual harassments complaints against Eder filed by the department's business manager and office secretary still are under investigation.

They also are on administration leave.

A third budget option, favored by Eder and Schrum, would have also eliminated the positions of assistant fire chief, fire prevention specialist and an office secretary.

That plan called for adding two battalion chiefs and hiring two additional firefighters for 24 total personnel.

The two battalion chiefs, along with Eder, would work 40-hour weeks opposite each other to provide seven day per week coverage of chief officers.

The second option would have cost $1.917 million.

It would also allow for $25,000 to reduce the district's debt.

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