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With voters being asked to renew a 1.8 mil tax levy in November, Chelsea Area Fire Authority Chief Jim Payeur and CAFA Board Chairman Rod Anderson gave a presentation to the Chelsea City Council on Tuesday, Sept. 25, explaining what the millage money was used for during the past five years.

Of importance to voters should be the changes in the CAFA service area “Public Protection Classification” — a number that’s used by the Insurance Services Office to determine the cost of homeowner’s insurance premiums.

“Generally, the price of insurance in a community with a good PPC is substantially lower than one with a poor PPC,” Anderson said.

New 105-foot ladder truck.

The CAFA district, which includes Chelsea, as well as Lima, Lyndon and Sylvan townships, went from a 6 to a 4 on a scale of 1-10. The lower number, the better the fire protection, and with that lower number, many homeowners could see a reduction in their insurance costs.

In one study, Anderson said, there was a 10-20 percent decrease in premiums following a reduction from a 6 to a 4 in PPC.

Here’s a story that outlines when the other presentations will take place as well as the exact wording that voters will consider.

When voters approved the 1.8 mil tax levy in 2008, the CAFA board promised that the fire station would be renovated and that the authority would set aside money to purchase a new ladder truck to replace the obsolete 1976 tower truck.

Both the fire station renovation (at a substantial cost savings because firefighters did a lot of the work on their own time, Payeur said) and the purchase of the new ladder truck took place.

With a total operating budget of about $1.3 million, personnel accounts for 69 percent of that amount. The authority has a full-time chief, three full-time fire captains, three full-time fire lieutenants, six full-time firefighters and a part-time administrative assistant.

For two years, the six firefighters were paid for by a SAFER grant, now in the third year, all the firefighters are being paid for by the authority’s general fund, which comes from the current millage.

It’s expected that at the end of the year, CAFA will keep three of the six firefighters while continuing to maintain round-the-clock station coverage.

If additional manpower is needed, paid-on-call firefighters will be used.

In setting its operational budget, CAFA projects a 3-percent decrease in the taxable value annually, a 3-percent increase in personnel costs annually and a 6-percent increase in fringe benefit costs annually.

The CAFA firefighters are not part of a union.

The current millage expires in 2013 and if the voters do not approve a renewal, the individual municipalities would have to fund the authority and it would be up to the city and townships how to pay for fire costs.

Currently, the cost allocation determined by the CAFA board places 40 percent on taxable value, 30 percent on population and 30 percent on the time spent on a fire call.

So, for instance, if the millage fails and there is a large fire in Lyndon Township, fire costs for the township would increase. With a millage in place, costs remain constant for all member municipalities and it’s up to the fire authority to manage the money it’s allocated each year to run the fire operations.

Click here for the entire presentation: CAFA Millage Presentation F1-Notes.

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