01-27-2002, 12:14 AM #1
- Join Date
- Jun 2001
What's the deal with cutting so many F.D. budgets??
Why in the world, especially in light of 9-11, would F.D. budgets even be considered to be cut?? "Here's your sign governers!"
Shouldn't funding increase? Everyone knows that the F.D. is a city's primary response for a disaster. The fire departments role in public safety continues to increase and the funding is decreasing?
01-27-2002, 08:35 AM #2
-- Local govt's in general cutting back from:
Lack of planning (expanded payrolls too much during good times to support them in bad)
Lack of planning (didn't save money or gave away too much of surpluses in order to keep taxes low to support them in bad years...now paradoxially, they're faced with raising taxes in a recession, a time they should hold or reduce taxes...good morning campers...)
-- Fire Departments are political hot potatoes, sometimes. Approve this tax increase, or we're cutting your firefighters and police officers. For most people that's more attention getting than approve this tax increase, or we're cutting your librarians.
-- And believe it or not, Fire Departments in most jurisdictions aren't good at asking for money. They're thankful for what they get and leave it at that.
01-27-2002, 09:14 AM #3
Came back for another brief diatribe...
One of all our responsibilities, not only as managers or administrators if we are, but as taxpayers and citizens is to watch our government that they spend wisely.
Most things in finance are not hard to plan for. Not hard at all.
You know how your school populations are going 5 or 10 years in advance. You know what the conditions of your schools are. You know when you need to go to bond to build and repair them.
You can look at your public safety staff's hire dates and have a pretty good idea each year how many people to plan on hiring.
Even on a broad level, the *general* trend is for more services. Smaller class sizes mean more teachers. Adding an officer here or there is typical. Maybe you want to reach 4 men on an engine -- and do it by adding one or two extra recruits over retirement-replacements for the next decade till you get to that level.
There are bad assumptions to make, like a ten year booming economy will continue indefinetly.
There is also times fiscal restraint goes out the window. Waterbury, CT springs to mind -- on top of a corrupt mayor building a million dollar dog pound, the City had not reevaluated property in over 20 years despite state law requiring a physical reevaluation every 10 years and a statistical reevaluation every three years.
I come from a town of modest means. We're not rich my any means relative to the state we're in. But we have been fortunate to have some decent leadership that can actually look out 5 or 10 years in advance. In fact, that's why we got a new Ladder this year. The original plan was for a replacement in 2005. The town fathers knew that wasn't going to fly -- five years from now we'll be in the middle of a fifty million dollar joint high school project with the neighboring town. '05 to '10 are going to be lean years for other major capital projects in town -- so everything from apparatus to highway trucks to library expansion either has to go before or after that window. A building committee hasn't even been appointed for the high school yet...but the Towns are getting their finances in order for it.
We also benefit heavily from the State Police. My town should cough up a bit more for police protection then we do, especially with situations like the State Police actually assigning a task force to part of our town and the neighboring town in response to a recent rash of heroin-related crimes.
Hartford's situation last year with the State Police providing 30 Troopers for 6 months wasn't surprising -- Hartford Police was down 30 officers at the time. They're now down another 30 officers. That's pretty predictable -- authorized strength of 460, CT has mostly 20 year pensions, that's 23 retirees a year. Must've been a double class 20 years ago since they're expecting 50 retirees. Do to bad planning, Hartford Police now look at a strength of about 350 next December -- and no recruit classes scheduled. Gee, any bets what happens to crime in a heavily gang ridden city when police are down 110 positions?
What I'm getting at is, this ain't rocket science. Knowing you have 20 year pensions, you know you have to hire 1/20th of the department each year, or 1/10th every other year to keep yourself at authorized strength. Ten, five years ago they could've been planning and keeping their finances in order to do that -- there is no reason for cities with essentially stable or growing populations and tax bases to not keep their houses in order.
And that's a responsibility we all share.
01-27-2002, 10:10 AM #4
- Join Date
- Mar 2001
- Llano, Texas Llano
Another key factor in getting better budgets is to educate the local city or county governments and the public. Phonex Ariz. has done this and are very successful at it. Where I live in rural Texas, we work at educating the public every year. If they do not know what your needs are in relation to the services that they want you to provide to them, you will never get what you need. Most of the time people will pay a little more taxes if than can see that they will do some good. You also must plan to rebutt those citizens of every community who have no knowledge of the fire and emergency sercvices, but think that they know everything about everything. They can be your worse enemy. They are always ready to do anything they can to fight tax raises.
This is my opinion for what it is worth.
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