07-10-2003, 03:36 PM #1
Utah-Mapleton Volley FF'r get Burned by Budget
Budget burns Mapleton firemen
By Rodger L. Hardy
Deseret Morning News
MAPLETON — You can't blame them for feeling a bit burned.
Four retired Mapleton firefighters were supposed to receive pins for 40 years of service at a firefighters convention — but city officials, struggling with a budget crunch, said they didn't have enough money to send the group to Ogden for the convention.
The city's bank accounts, they said, are as bare as a charred mountainside after a wildfire.
Mayor Dean Allen said Mapleton ran out of money in May, just weeks before the end of the fiscal year. As a result, leaders extinguished any spending plans.
This is the first time in about four decades that the city hasn't paid for the jaunt to the convention. The meet provides attendees with a look at the latest training and cutting-edge fire fighting equipment and technology.
In the past, the city paid for registration, two nights' lodging, mileage and meals.
Ten firefighters were set to go this year to the June 12-14 meet. When the city balked at paying the bill, however, they canceled plans to attend.
Footing the bill himself, retired firefighter Dick Bills went to the Utah State Fire Association convention to accept the pins for himself and colleagues Norman Barker, John Bleggie and Ned Poulsen.
The city "could have gotten (the money) from somewhere," said an irked Bills, a charter member of the city's volunteer department.
The money — about $2,600 — sat in the budget all year before all city funds were frozen, said David Stewart, the volunteer fire chief.
"We were quite put out with it," Stewart said. "They pulled the budget right out from underneath us."
Allen said the city's funds went up in smoke after they were hit with unforeseen attorney fees and an increase in liability insurance. Mapleton hired a law firm to represent the city after its previous attorney left city employment in February.
Mapleton, population 6,370, plans on operating the city in 2003-2004 with $2.4 million, which includes money for the firefighters to attend next year's convention. Stewart said he may pay for the convention now rather than take a chance on getting frozen out next June.Front line since 1983 and still going strong
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