McCOOK, Nebraska -- The McCook Fire and Ambulance departments were commended for their continued budgeting efficiency by Mayor Dennis Berry at Monday evening's second of three budget workshops at Memorial Auditorium.
"Congratulations [to McCook Fire Chief Marc Harpham] on your 20 years of service and your department continues to do a fantastic job of budgeting," said Berry.
The three departments under Harpham -- Fire, Ambulance and Civil Defense -- have a proposed 2010-11 budget total that is $28,845 less than the 2009-10 budget.
The personal services section of the fire department's budget reflects a $40,640 increase, directly related to salary increases while it came in $700 under prior year in the supplies section and $3,450 under in the other services and charges section.
The bulk of the fire department's savings came from the budget transfers section, specifically the transportation/fire equipment replacement line item which budgets for $0, versus $20,000 each of the last two years. The other improvements line item of capital outlay section also reflects $0, saving $16,650 versus the prior budget.
The fire department has $8,000 in turnout gear budgeted in the capital outlay section.
Harpham's proposed budget for the ambulance department proposes a $975 decrease in supplies, $3,500 decrease in other service and charges and $40,000 in the capital outlay section, machinery and equipment line item, a $10,000 savings versus prior year budget.
The bulk of the ambulance department's savings is in the same area as the fire department, a $0 amount budgeted in the budget transfers section, specifically the transportation/ambulance equipment replacement line item, which was budgeted at $15,000 in the previous budget.
The budget transfers section has historically been used as an area for the departments to budget dollars to be accumulated and used to purchase new fire and ambulance vehicles. Harpham announced during his recap of the budget that he will be looking into lease programs as a more viable replacement option in the future. He explained that the price of emergency vehicles was increasing each year at such a pace that it prevented him from being able to meet his vehicle retirement schedule.
The Civil Defense Department, commonly known as the Emergency Management Department, is responsible for emergency management training of city staff as well as maintenance and replacement of the outdoor warning sirens used for weather alerts. Total Civil Defense proposed budget is $9,220 versus $9,430 prior budget, a $210 decrease.
Harpham indicated that volunteer response time was becoming less than ideal, unfortunately aligned with a national trend believed to be attributed to changes in lifestyle. While he was proud of the Fire department being at 100% capacity with a waiting list for its tenth consecutive year, in regards to volunteers, he acknowledged that the lifestyle change may make it necessary to expand the full-time staff in the future.
In 2010 Harpham also achieved his goal of having 100% of his full time staff certified as paramedics, an uncommon achievement requiring a great amount of dedication.