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Washington County's Division of Emergency Services asks county for $13.5 million

Director Kevin Lewis was told that most of the requests cannot be accommodated this year

March 27, 2013|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com

The director of Washington County’s Division of Emergency Services went before the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday to present the department’s annual budget request that reflects a 21-percent increase over the current fiscal year.

The request for fiscal year 2013-14 totals out a little more than $13.5 million, up by 21.4 percent from the current year’s expenditures of $11.2 million, according to DES Director Kevin Lewis and documents given to the five commissioners.

Most of the increases stem from the need to maintain adequate staffing of volunteer fire and EMS departments, which would ultimately save the county money, Lewis said.

The majority of the request — 7.8 million — was for volunteer fire and rescue services, about a $1.7 million increase from the current year. Increases there are due to requests to provide service awards for volunteers, such as tax credits, college tuition reimbursement and day care benefits, as well as insurance cost hikes, Lewis said.

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Other categories included $4 million toward the county’s 911 Center, $1.1 million for fire and rescue operations, $392,470 for special operations, $114,300 for emergency management and $41,040 for the county’s air unit.

During discussion Tuesday, County Administrator Gregory B. Murray said the county wants to see a comprehensive plan laid out that incorporates a lot of these requests with an eye on future operations.

Murray told Lewis and Dale Hill, president of the Washington County Vol. Fire and Rescue Association who joined Lewis, that most of the requests cannot be accommodated this year.

“We obviously have a lot of things we can do, but we know as with all budgets, we don’t have additional revenue sources this year,” Murray said. “You will hear more about this as we move forward and finalize our operating budget.”

After receiving all the county’s annual department budget requests, the county is projected to have to cut about $8.6 million to balance its budget, according to a short presentation by Debra Murray, director of the county’s Office of Budget and Finance.

Projected revenues include $119.2 million from property values, $74.5 million in local taxes, $2.8 million in program revenues and about $500,000 from interest income, Debra Murray said.

“This gives you just an overall feel of where we’re at” with projected budget revenues, she said.

Debra Murray said she would return in two weeks with a proposal that balances the budget, cutting about $8.6 million in requested spending.

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