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|Ouachita fire department finances look rosy|
The Ouachita Parish Fire Department is on track to have another sound financial year, according to a its proposed 2010 fiscal year budget.
The fire department's proposed budget for the new fiscal year was presented to the Ouachita Parish Police Jury Monday.
Last weekend, parish voters overwhelmingly supported the 10-year, 19-11 mill property tax renewal to pay for operations at the Ouachita Parish Fire Department. The 19.11 mills will be collected through 2019.
In the meantime, fire department chief Pat Hemphill said the police jury would need to amend the department's 2009 budget to reflect an increase in property tax revenues from $6.6 million to $7.2 million due to higher than anticipated revenues generated by pipelines within the district.
The 2010 proposed budget calls for $7.2 million in property tax revenues. Also, sales tax collections during 2010 are estimated to be $5.5 million.
The fire department's overall 2009 adopted budget is $12.7 million, which would need to be amended to $13.2 million to reflect the increase in tax revenues.
The overall proposed 2010 fiscal year budget is $13.3 million.
Expenditures during fiscal year 2009 were $11.6 million.
Hemphill anticipates expenditures in 2010 will be $12.4 million, which would be an increase over 2009 because the fire department plans to hire nine new firefighters.
The 2009 adopted budget called for a transfer of $750,000 into the fire department's capital outlay fund, which is used for major purchases by the fire department.
"Since we did come in far enough under budget, I propose we amend the 2009 budget to double that to a $1.5 million deposit into the capital outlay fund," Hemphill said.
The 2010 proposed budget calls for a $750,000 deposit in the fire department's capital outlay fund. That would give the capital outlay fund a $4.5 million fund balance at the end of the 2010 fiscal year.
During the 2010 fiscal year, the fire department plans to purchase a new truck for its arson investigator.
The fire department also will hold off purchasing a new fire truck next year due to problems that need to be ironed out by manufacturers of the newer model engines. He said the fire department still plans to replace one fire engine each year in order to replace its entire fleet within the next 10 years.
"I think we are on pace to meet our needs for the trucks, especially with that deposit (into the capital outlay fund) each year," Hemphill said. "We will be able to average one new truck per year."
A new fire engine typically costs $450,000.
One of the focuses for the Ouachita Parish Fire Department over the next several years will entail improving the parish's fire rating, Hemphill said.
The department currently has a class 5 rating.
The department's class rating determines how much money parish property owners pay for homeowner's insurance. The highest rating, or best rating, is a class 1.
The Property Insurance Association of Louisiana determines the rating for each fire department in the state. Hemphill anticipates the fire department will be rated again by the Property Insurance Association within the next several years.