Fire Officials Request 11% Increase In Fiscal '93 Budget

Costs Of Training, Insurance, Increased Service Rise As Fund-raising Falters

February 12, 1992|By Daniel P. Clemens Jr. | Daniel P. Clemens Jr.,Staff writer

Facing rising costs and sinking revenues, Carroll fire officials told the county commissioners yesterday they need more money in the coming fiscal year than was allocated for the current year.

The Carroll County Volunteer Firemen's Association presented to the commissioners its proposed $2,259,645 budget for fiscal year 1993, which begins July 1.

The spending proposal represents about an 11 percent increase over the revised fire budget for the current year.

The commissioners originally approved $2,084,820 for fiscal year 1992 but reduced that amount to $2,029,405 last fall after state budget cuts.

Because county officials expect state and local budget woes to continue, the commissioners requested that all agencies keep 1993 budget requests within the revised spending levels of the current year.

But many of the costs associated with fire and rescue service continue to climb, and fire officials said yesterday they had little choice but to submita budget that eclipses the current year's allocation.

Costs are rising partly because the fire companies are working more, officials said. In 1991, the 14 fire companies in Carroll fielded 9,073 calls for service, a 7.5 percent increase over the 8,439 calls in 1990.

"It's always more costly to keep equipment on the road," said Oscar Baker, president of the county firefighters association.

And as the qualifications for fire and rescue workers continue to increase, the cost of training also rises, Baker said.

Another constantly rising cost is insurance.

The association has not requested an increase in its operating budget for two years, Baker said.

Money collected from fund-raising events, which fire companies sponsor to supplement county financing, also has dropped off in recent times, Baker said. Revenue from events such as dinners, dances and bingo nights has declined, probably because of the recession, Baker said.

"(The companies) are going to have to put on more of these affairs to keep up with the costs," said Baker, who's also a member of the Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Co.

To keep its spending request down, the association cut$9,000 for recruiting and retention.

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