Thanks to a voter-approved increase in its general fund tax levy and a nearly 3.7 percent boost in assessed property valuations, the West County EMS and Fire Protection District expects nearly 37 percent more general fund revenue in 2016 than in 2015, according to figures in its preliminary budget.
The West County Board of Directors received the spending plan at a mid-November meeting and is expected to vote on a final version in December.
Total projected general fund revenues this year are estimated at $5.761 million while income expected next year is set at $7.889 million. The general fund is by far the largest of five funds for which the district levies taxes on real estate and personal property.
Last April, West County voters approved an increase of 30 cents per $100 assessed valuation, raising the general fund levy from 42.8 cents per $100 assessed valuation to 72.8 cents. The tax increase did not affect levies for the district’s ambulance, dispatch, pension and debt service funds.
General fund personnel-related expenditures are projected to be just over $1 million higher in 2016, reflecting an increase in wages included in a new collective bargaining agreement approved last summer and the reassignment of six employees from the ambulance fund to the general fund. Other major cost increases include a 20.85 percent hike in medical and workers compensation insurance premiums.
Total general fund spending next year is projected at almost $7.260 million, leaving an estimated $629,000 for general fund reserves. Boosting the general fund reserve is a step the district had told voters it would take if the tax increase was approved.
Increases and decreases in various income and spending categories in the ambulance, dispatch, pension and debt service funds are minimal and do not have a major impact on changes in the district’s 2016 budget.
The ambulance fund will be down to $3.3 million, compared with this year’s $3.4 million. The district also will collect and then pass about $356,000 in revenues received from a levy to fund services from the Central County Emergency 911 dispatching operation.
Similarly, funds received to pay for the district’s pension program will total about $1.13 million. The district expects to have about $38,000 remaining to add to pension fund reserves.
Revenues for paying interest and retiring debt on earlier-issued bonds authorized by voters and to purchase capital equipment will total nearly $1.8 million. Major capital purchases anticipated in 2016’s spending of about $231,000 include three staff vehicles, fitness equipment and furniture, and communications, computer and training equipment.