North Tahoe Fire approves $9 million budget |

North Tahoe Fire approves $9 million budget

The North Tahoe Fire Protection District board of directors on Wednesday adopted a $9.1 million budget for the 2007-08 fiscal year.

The budget is a little bit larger than last year’s, Fire Chief Duane Whitelaw said in an interview afterward, but the spending plan compensates for revenues lost to other government agencies.

“The biggest thing that we’re talking about is we lose so much revenue to other agencies ” huge amounts to the redevelopment agency, huge amounts to the state tax shift,” Whitelaw said. “It’s how we work around those losses and still provide the highest level of service possible.”

The revenue to balance the district’s annual budget is $9.1 million. Total property tax revenue is about $6.7 million and non-tax revenues ” from sources like reserve transfers, investment interest and fees ” come in at $2.3 million.

Revenues from ambulance services are down significantly this year ” from a high of $1 million in 2004-05 to just over $600,000 this year.

“The trend has been, while the 9-1-1 emergencies are pretty constant, the revenue doesn’t keep pace. We believe that’s a consequence of less reimbursement,” Whitelaw said. “Ambulance revenue used to be a pretty significant part of our revenue, but we are less and less depending on that as a stable funding source to keep the ambulance and paramedic program running.”

Additionally, the fire district receives more than $300,000 from the Alpine Springs County Water District as a result of a 15-year agreement to staff the Alpine Meadows station on a part-time basis.

Salaries account for a large portion of expenditure, with more than $3 million spent on full-time and part-time staff. Total salaries and benefits account for nearly $6 million of the district’s costs.

The budget did not increase as a result of any salary negotiations, Whitelaw said.

Spurred in part by the devastating Angora and Washoe fires this summer, the North Tahoe Fire Protection District identified a need for increased fire-prevention services. The district board voted unanimously at its last meeting to ask voters to approve a special benefit assessment. If passed, property owners within the bounds of the district ” from the state line down the West Shore ” would pay an additional $48 on their annual property taxes.

District officials say the money will help pay for modernized radio equipment, helicopter drops, the chipping program and more home inspections.

Ballots are due on Oct. 23 when the 45-day voting window closes. A public hearing that evening will be held to discuss the measure.

An impartial third party hired by the district will count the votes and the decision will be released at the end of October.

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