The Farmersville City Council approved a new budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which includes funds for a full-time fire battalion chief
FARMERSVILLE – Farmersville’s city council left the community in the lurch in previous meetings when they did not decide to fund a full-time fire battalion chief. However, thanks to the tax dollars brought in by cannabis sales, the city found the $170,000 needed in this year’s upcoming budget.
The position is budgeted for the entire year 2022-23 fiscal year, but according to Steve Huntley, director of finance and administration, it is unclear when the position will be filled.
Whether the city would be able to fund the position in this budget was up in the air until their meeting on Monday, June 13. The battalion chief is currently a volunteer position that works under a $12,000 stipend and only works during major incidents and when the volunteer fire chief is absent.
This will be the fourth of three full time positions in the fire department, including one fire captain and two fire lieutenants. The rest of the fire department is completely volunteer-based.
Water funds trickle in
The water fund is low on operational revenue for the upcoming year. There are not enough funds available for future repair and replacement requirements. The council plans to reevaluate the effectiveness of rate increases.
One of the reasons the water fund is low on revenue is an effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor’s office did not allow the city to shut off the water for residents who could not make payments, so the city was unable to enforce delinquent accounts. “We’re working on setting up payment plans…to collect on that debt,” said Finance Director Huntley,
Huntley anticipates that there will be an upcoming rate increase in order to plan for future asset replacement. If increases are approved in the future they will likely take effect in the following 2023-2024 fiscal year.
Sewer system underwater
The sewer system is not currently undergoing a rate increase, however, there is a potential for a rate increase in the near future to ensure the long term health of the fund. User rates are expected to be evaluated for increase in the following fiscal year of 2023-2024 at the same time as the water rate increases.
The sewer enterprise fund will now have to repay the debt owed to the state for the construction of the new wastewater treatment facility. The debt agreement by the city places more financial burden on the fund for the life of the debt through 2052.
Increase on trash
Although the solid waste collection system has a generally set rate, the 2022-2023 fiscal year is the second of five years of rate increases. The residential rates for single families, multi-family units, and small businesses are set to increase by $1.25 per month beginning July 1, 2022.
This is due to Senate Bill 1383, California cities are now required to provide education on organic waste collection, set up food waste collection programs, establish a standardized labeling of waste containers and obtain compost or renewable fuel from recycled green waste and food waste.
Implementing these practices has required extra funds for the waste department budget, which has resulted in a rate increase for residents and businesses. Rate increases will continue over the next four years. Huntley believes that extending increases over several years is preferable for ratepayers than a large increase all at once.