After going back to the drawing board, Mid County Fire Protection District board had to make a few tough decisions. In the board's December meeting, the directors voted to approve a balanced budget for 2014.
The decision came days after the board met for a Saturday work session. In the days since the work session, directors sent Treasurer Mike High and Chief Scott Frandsen their recommendations.
"These are tough, tough decisions but we are going to have to close stations, sell assets and put this district into the size of the budget," Frandsen told the board. "These are not punitive cuts. All we are trying to do is make this district fit into the budget available."
The approved budget does include the idea of decommissioning three stations and selling apparatuses. The board did not make plans at the meeting to sell anything immediately. Their next step is to make a timeline.
Fire Marshal Chris Bachmann reviewed the organization's personnel code in order to save the district money going into the new year. Bachmann spoke to firefighters and came up with a proposal.
"This proposal came from them," Bachmann said of the districts firefighters.
Changes to the district's holiday time include only paying the employee holiday time if they actually worked that holiday. If the employee is scheduled to work that holiday, they will be compensated at a rate of one and a half their normal hourly rate. If they are covering a shift of someone else, they would then be compensated two times their normal hourly rate. The approved recognized holidays include New Year's Day, President's Day, Easter Sunday, Memorial Day, July fourth, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
The change to this policy will potentially save the district approximately $3,500.
"If they are happy, I'm happy," Board member Rod Sederwall commented.
The decision made by the board was not an easy one.
"It's affecting everybody. It's affecting the moral of the organization and our services," Fransden said.
The approved budget is $53,601 less than last year's budget.
"A little less than 600 votes decided the fate of more than 9,000 voters but we are bound to that," Board Chairman Charles McElyea said.
Any funds produced from selling assets will be put into reserve funds.