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Chelsea Area Fire Authority sign.

Chelsea Area Fire Authority sign.

The Chelsea Area Fire Authority (CAFA) Board approved an about $1.3 million preliminary 2014 operating budget Tuesday morning, which includes salaries for a chief, an administrative assistant and nine firefighters including three captains, three lieutenants and three firefighters.

The revenue side is based on a modest 1-percent increase in property taxes to remain within the 1.8 mills that will be collected from the member municipalities.

This preliminary budget will now be sent to the member municipalities of the City of Chelsea, Lima, Lyndon and Sylvan townships for comment before it comes back to the CAFA board for final approval, which is expected to take place next month.

If approved as it currently stands, this means that one open firefighter position will not be filled and two firefighters will be laid off. However, the board has not voted on when these proposed staff reductions may take place.

The 2014 budget shows a slight increase over this year’s $1.297 million budget.

In addition, the CAFA Board approved Linda Reilly as the new Lyndon Township representative to the board following the recent resignation of John Francis. She will also serve as the board secretary.

Currently, the board is operating with four members as it was recently discovered that at large Board Member Jamie Bollinger’s term on the CAFA Board had expired in July, 2013.

Bollinger, who was appointed to the CAFA Board in June, 2011, told the Chelsea City Council on Monday night that he’d asked CAFA Board Chairman Rod Anderson to explore when his term on the CAFA Board ended, and it was determined that it already had.

When asked by City Council Member Jim Myles if he’d like to continue on the CAFA Board, Bollinger said he did not wish to continue because he’d been approached to serve on several other boards.

Anderson said that although he and Bollinger had had differences of opinion during their time together on the CAFA Board that Bollinger was “a dedicated public servant” and “was responsible for the rehabilitation of the fire station,” which was just one of his many contributions during his tenure.

Bollinger told the City Council that the CAFA board was facing some “difficult times” with its upcoming budget deliberations, and he also urged the City Council to swiftly nominee someone for the vacant at large position since the CAFA board is now acting with four members rather than five members.

“I encourage the City Council to react on that as quickly as possible,” Bollinger said.

Ultimately, who is appointed to the at large position is up to the CAFA board, but all member municipalities are encouraged to nominate a candidate for the position. In addition, the alternate at large position is also currently vacant.

In other CAFA business, following a closed session to discuss a legal opinion, the board approved a resolution that documents the process to address disciplinary actions.

Among the other items discussed by the board was a performance evaluation of Fire Chief Jim Payeur. Board members are expected to complete the evaluation form and discuss the findings with the chief during a closed session at the December meeting. The chief’s contract expires in March, 2014.

The next regularly scheduled CAFA meeting is Dec. 17 at 9 a.m. at Sylvan Township Hall.

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