The Chelsea Area Fire Authority board held a special meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 27 to approve its proposed $1.245 million 2013 operating budget, and the document now heads to the member municipalities — Chelsea, Lima, Lyndon and Sylvan townships — for comment from the elected officials.
The preliminary budget is a 5-percent reduction from the $1.313 million 2012 operating budget, and includes an additional $2,500-$4,200 to maintain a round-the-clock 3-person staff once the SAFER grant ends in August.
Currently, the authority has four people on duty 24-hours a day through a federal grant, which allowed CAFA to hire six additional firefighters.
Fire Chief Jim Payeur said he plans to use both paid-on-call and/or full-time firefighters on overtime to maintain the three-person staffing level.
Paid-on-call firefighters get $7.50 per hour to cover full-time shifts and this increases to $18.70 per hour if they go on an emergency call, Payeur said. Full-time firefighters’ overtime pay ranges from $17.25 for firefighters to $24.60 per hour for captains.
The preliminary budget shows an increase of $2,500 for the paid-on-call wages and $4,200 for the overtime wages. The proposed 2013 wage costs would be $859,878, while the 2012 budget listed wages at $922,706.
No wage increases are included in the budget.
To maintain the 3-person staffing when firefighters are sick or on vacation, Payeur will use a combination of paid-on-call and full-time firefighters, and he will fill in as the third person during the day when he is on duty.
“Based on the historic average,” it’s expected that about 200 hours will need to be filled from August through the end of December, Payeur said.
Staffing includes a chief, three captains, three lieutenants, three full-time firefighters and 15 paid-on-call firefighters as well as a 25-hour per week administrative assistant.
The CAFA board meets again on Dec. 18 and will take into consideration any suggestions that the city or townships make on the preliminary budget and then vote on a final version.