City fire department seeks $6.56 million budget for 2017

Published 9:58 am Thursday, August 4, 2016

Capital improvements and personnel are the high-ticket items in the Vicksburg Fire Department’s proposed $6.56 million budget for next fiscal year.

Fire Chief Charles Atkins and deputy chief Craig Danczyk and Kenneth Daniels met with the Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday to discuss the budget.

The meeting was one of several meetings between the board and city department heads before a fiscal 2017 budget is approved. By state law the board must have a new budget approved and in place by Sept. 15. The 2017 fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

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At $4.49 million, employee salaries and benefits tops the list of expenses for the department.

The proposed capital improvements, which includes the city’s new Fire Station No. 3 at Maxwell Street and Barryman Road, totals about $1.2 million, with $1.163 million for the fire station and $74,500 for renovations to Fire Station No. 2 and the Central Fire Station.

The $1.16 million is money left from $1.6 million in capital improvement bond funds designated for the fire station after the city has bought the land and paid for design work.

The work at Station 2 includes replacing windows and doors and sections of the exterior, which has rot and water damage. Plans for Central include replacing the most of flooring on the second floor and improving the stairwells. Also on the list is a new roof for the fire department’s training center, which has been damaged buy storms.

One capital item removed from the proposed budget was $1.5 million for two ladder trucks to replace a ladder truck and a pumper. The city’s platform truck is 15 years old, while ladder truck is 23 years old.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. asked Atkins to wait on buying a new aerial truck.

“I would love to see us wait until we get the new fire station and we close out this (present fiscal) year and we look at what we’re going to do,” he said. “You know you’ve got to equip it and you want to go with new.

“I promise you I’ve got your answer if we can make sure that we’ve got what we to have now regardless of the new station, I promise you I can get some other equipment in the next administration,” he said.

“We’re trying to look at how we an access the (remainder of) the bond money in ‘17 instead of 2018. We can refinance. The interest rates are lower, and there may be some way we can refinance and put more money on the table in 2017, so that you can make up the difference on what you want to do with that new station.”

Flaggs said he anticipates the city having more money in the fiscal 2018 budget. One reason is the city will pay off two existing bond issues in the fiscal 2017 from 2003 and 2007 totaling $7.78 million. The bonds were refinanced in 2014.

“All I’m asking of you is the same thing I’m asking the police department, anybody else who comes here, ‘If we can buy only what we absolutely have to have that would affect the quality of service this year, (fiscal) 2017, we will be better off in ‘18,’” he said. “More money will be available in the 2018 budget. There should more potential growth in tax money in 2018.”
Besides the ladder trucks, the department requesting a new Hurst Jaws of Life, new turnout gear for 10 percent of the firefighters, eight new air packs.

Atkins also asked for two new vehicles, a $32,000 11-passenger van to take firefighters to and emergency medical workers for training outside Vicksburg, and a $32,000 four-wheel drive crew cab pickup.

Danczyk said the truck will serve as a utility truck “in case we have to pull a boat or haul our air trailer to and from the scene.”


About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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