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West County amends, approves 2019 budget

By: Jim Erickson

After making a few last-minute changes, the board of the West County EMS and Fire Protection District has approved a 2019 budget.

The most significant of the budget alterations reflect an extra $300,000 set aside for purchasing an additional ambulance and reducing the projected cost of worker’s compensation insurance based on information received from the district’s insurance source.

The 2019 premium is more than $113,000 lower than originally budgeted and includes reductions in amounts charged to both the general and ambulance funds.

Other, smaller changes include a $20,000 increase in capital spending on facilities for additional administration building remodeling and a $52,000 boost in capital spending for an added air breathing system.

Budgeted 2019 expenditures from the district’s general, ambulance, debt service, pension and dispatch funds will total some $15 million, an amount that includes the final changes and is less than projected revenues.

In another action, the board also approved crediting retired employees with up to $1,000 per month to cover medical costs, including insurance premiums, under the district’s post-retirement health reimbursement plan.

The amount to be credited depends on the employee’s length of service. A retired employee with a minimum of 15 years of service will receive a $500 monthly credit, with $100 added for each year up to the maximum of 20.

The funds will go into a trust account that can be used for qualified medical costs incurred by the retiree or dependents. The credits end when the employee dies, reaches 65 years of age and becomes eligible for Medicare, and under other defined circumstances.

The benefit will use existing revenues from the district’s pension fund and will be maintained within the current, approved pension tax levy, explained Deputy Chief Dave Frazier. “In short, defined contribution amounts [for pensions] will be decreased [to provide] the necessary funding for this new benefit,” he said.

West County’s service area includes all or parts of Manchester, Town & Country, Twin Oaks, Winchester, Ballwin, Valley Park and nearby areas of unincorporated St. Louis County.

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