Fire and rescue budget is hot topic for Darien
But just because budget communication is better than it has been doesn't mean the village can come up with the requested money, Village Administrator Diana Dykstra said.
Assistant Fire Chief Dan Boss on Wednesday presented a proposed budget for the fire portion of the emergency services shared by the village and town during a joint meeting of the two boards. Boss also is a member of the town board.
At the town attorney's request, Boss removed himself from his role as a supervisor to present his budget. Fire Chief Dan Nickels was unable to attend the meeting.
The department's budget has risen sharply in the last few years. For 2011, the fire department alone has budgeted $203,819. That is up 39.3 percent from $146,340 in 2010, which was up 38.9 percent from $105,325 in 2009.
Some of the requested items included $6,350 for new bay doors, $35,000 for new extrication equipment, $5,500 for a fitness program and $12,000 for new turnout gear, according to Boss' presentation.
The department only asked for necessities, Boss said.
"Everything in here is stuff that's a safety issue," he said. "There are dozens of things we didn't consider."
The village recognizes the importance of the equipment, but you can't squeeze blood—or money—from a turnip, was the message Dykstra gave Boss.
The village pays 44.2 percent of the annual budget for fire and EMS, and the town pays 55.8 percent. However, the village is working to pay off debt from sewer work last year and soon could be considering a water utility rate increase for the second year in a row, she said.
All village department heads were asked to make a budget with a zero percent increase, she said.
The boards did not take action on the budget before the Gazette's press time but did agree to slice some things from the budget, including money for the fitness program and the amount of turnout gear to be requested. Board members and Boss also talked about alternatives for paying for the requested items, including service fees, grants and fundraisers.