Town council discusses county fire and EMS plans, budget requests

aluck@tidewaterreview.com

The town of West Point and West Point Volunteer Fire Department will not be affected by the county’s plans to reorganize the fire and EMS system, according to county administrator Bobbie Tassinari.

Tassinari discussed the plans with Town Council at its Monday night meeting.

Town manager John Edwards also discussed preliminary requests for the 2019-2020 budget.

County fire, EMS plans

Tassinari said she wanted to share with council the county’s plans and goals in reorganizing the fire and EMS system.

“This was unexpected, but King William Volunteer Fire and Rescue came to the county in the end of October, as they are having financial and volunteer retention struggles,” Tassinari said.

She said the organization could not pay its bills without more EMS billing revenue and the $118,000 in funding provided by the county over the past year.

“We then began discussing changing it into an auxiliary support station and reorganizing the system,” Tassinari said. “Then we hit a glitch where a volunteer organization from another county approached King William Volunteer Fire and Rescue to help them with their debt and function.”

Mattaponi Volunteer Rescue Squad made King William Volunteer Fire and Rescue the offer, according to Tassinari at the board’s Monday meeting.

She said she instructed King William County Fire and EMS chief Andy Aigner to look for a new station location, as she was not sure the agreement with King William Volunteer Fire and Rescue was going to be fulfilled.

Aigner found a location for Station Four off Dunluce Road, across from the Nestle Purina plant. The county will pay utilities and will have a no-cost lease agreement with the property owner, according to Tassinari.

“King William Volunteer and Rescue decided they wanted to go with a county partnership,” Tassinari said. “So now I have to man King William Volunteer Fire and Rescue or Station One and the new station, Station Four.”

The county will shift funds from King William Volunteer Fire and Rescue and Mattaponi Volunteer Rescue Squad to staff both stations and fund total fire and EMS operations, according to Tassinari.

King William Volunteer Fire and Rescue’s remaining balance of their building mortgage — $282,646.12 — will be paid off using the county’s unassigned general fund balance of $7.3 million. A loan of $264,185.03 for a tanker and engine will be refinanced and renegotiated, according to Tassinari.

“Last night (Monday) the board approved two resolutions for me to go forward with the process of conveying the building and property,” Tassinari said. “This is just to show the county’s intent and to allow us to go forward in the agreement process.”

The county’s fire and EMS started 24/7 coverage Monday and the goal is to provide the best care for county residents, according to Tassinari.

The county will add and move around part time fire medics and volunteers to make sure the new stations are property staffed, according to Tassinari.

“I just want to make clear that West Point Volunteer Fire Department will not be affected,” Tassinari said. “Not the financial contribution or the county’s relationship with the organization.”

Edwards then commented that it’s good to know the town’s volunteers are fulfilling their duties and setting an example of service in the county.

Town Council, Edwards and Tassinari commended West Point Volunteer Fire Department Chief Joseph Bartos, and Mayor Jim Hudson also commended Tassinari on her interest in the town.

Budget requests

Edwards presented a preliminary monetary amount of budget requests for this year’s budget, minus West Point Public Schools’ formal request amount.

“We have a general idea on where they think they are headed,” Edwards said. “Superintendent Laura Abel thinks best case scenario there will be an operational budget increase of $40,000, as well as an amount for capital project items of $320,000.”

Without the schools’ request, there is a $273,539 gap between budget requests and expected revenue for next year, according to Edwards.

The town’s 2018-2019 amended budget (Town Council has approved several budget amendments) is $16,005,026, of which $10,664,001 went to schools, according to Edwards.

“So far, we have $8,095,508 for requests without the schools, and a projected revenue amount of $8,631,969 in expected revenue for next year,” Edwards said. “We’ve been in a lot worse shape at this point in the game, we’ve been in better shape as well.”

Edwards said he does not foresee using the town’s general fund balance for the 2019-2020 budget.

“We will have plenty of meetings and discussions before I give you my budget recommendation at the end of March,” Edwards said. “My recommendation will have no gap.”

The 2019-2020 budget requests will be discussed at the town’s Feb. 14 finance committee meeting and council and the School Board will hold a joint budget meeting on March 5.

Edwards will present his recommended budget to council on March 26 and the budget is projected to be approved by April 30.

Luck can be reached at 757-291-2038, aluck@tidewaterreview.com, or @ashleyrluck on Twitter

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