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Fire department budget rises slightly PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Mitch Maersch   
Wednesday, 09 November 2016 21:40

Village, town OK replacing extrication equipment but not firehouse overhead door and opener

The Belgium Fire Department nearly had its entire budget request approved by the combined village and town boards last month.

A 6-0 vote gave the fire department a budget of $133,000 for 2017, down from its request of $139,100.

The major project to be cut from the budget is replacing the overhead door and opener at the firehouse for $4,200. Chief Dan Birenbaum said replacing the door could save on heating since the existing door isn’t insulated well, but said it is a project that could be delayed.

“I hate to take (funds away) anyplace else,” Birenbaum said.

The budget is up by nearly $2,000 from this year’s $131,050. The $139,000 request would be a 6.5% increase.

New items in the 2017 budget include two hoses for $4,000, extrication equipment for $4,000, three pagers for $1,200 and 10 pairs of gloves for $800.

Birenbaum said the department’s extrication equipment is old and won’t be able to cut the steel on new cars.

Despite it being rarely used, the village and town boards agreed to keep the equipment in the budget.

“That’s lifesaving,” Town Chairman Tom Winker said.

The department’s two hoses are 25 to 30 years old and need to be replaced.

Winker said the town couldn’t handle the entire requested increase by the department. He said last year when the department asked for a 6% increase, town taxpayers told the board to prioritize, budget better and live within its means.

Of the three major elements making up the town’s budget, Winker said, the office and recycling center numbers are set. The only other place to cut is road maintenance.

How much money is spent on roads is mostly determined by how much needs to be spent on snowplowing, he said.

“If we raise (the fire department budget) 4%, it comes from roads. It has to,” Winker said.

Village President Vickie Boehnlein said  she is comfortable with a $135,000 budget, “which is essentially their budget without the overhead door.”

Winker made a motion for a $132,000 budget that failed, 4-2. Trustees Josh Borden and Pete Anzia abstained, and Dale Pfeifer and Rose Sauers were absent.

Winker then suggested $133,000, which passed unanimously.

Not included in the budget was money for radios, which Ozaukee County is starting to replace. Birenbaum said that 25 years ago when the radio system started, the county picked up the tab. He said he isn’t sure if that will be the case this time.

Replacing the department’s seven mobile radios and 14 portable ones would cost an estimated $73,500.

“Other departments are starting to put budget money aside,” Birenbaum said.

The department’s air packs are due for replacement in 2018 at an estimated cost of $153,325. Birenbaum said the department will write a grant for the money, but there’s no guarantee of receiving it.

In addition, the department’s 1993 grass fire truck is due to be replaced in 2018. Its current value is estimated to be $60,000. Birenbaum said that will be discussed next year.

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