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WMFR approves budget, promotes firefighters

By Kathy Prucnell, Islander Reporter

New West Manatee Fire Rescue firefighters, Corry Hill, left, and Tyler MacDonald, are introduced Aug. 16 at the WMFR board meeting. Islander Photos: Kathy Prucnell

West Manatee Fire Rescue firefighter Andrew Lauricella is pinned by his mother, Donna Mastenbrook, signifying his promotion to first-class firefighter at the Aug. 16 meeting of the WMFR board of commissioners.

West Manatee Fire Rescue Lt. Ben Rigney, left, Battalion Chief Rich Jasinski and first-class firefighter Andrew Lauricella take the oath of office at the Aug. 16 WMFR commission meeting.

A $5.5 million budget, reflecting a $6,500 decrease in revenue from a tentative budget presented last month, was approved Aug. 16 by the West Manatee Fire Rescue District Board of Commissioners.

        In presenting the budget, WMFR Chief Andy Price said an adjustment was needed to reflect “a slight reduction of income.”

        Price also told commissioners he expects an earlier payment of taxes this year because of the discount offered to taxpayers for early payment.

        Following the public hearing at the administration office, 6417 Third Ave. W., Bradenton, which opened and closed with no comments made, commissioners voted unanimously to approve the 2012-13 WMFR budget.

        WMFR commissioners adopted a resolution that sets a total operating budget of $5,520,945 for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

        Several minor adjustments to the budget were made, including a $7,300 reduction in the health insurance line item.

        With the adjusted numbers, the operating budget is $97,849, or 1.8 percent, higher than the 2011-12 budget.

        Jumps in workers compensation and health insurance rates were blamed for the slightly spending.

        Built into this year’s budget is $1.5 million to replace bunker protective gear and update accountability devices used for the safety of firefighters, as well as other equipment, according to Price.

         Also in the budget for employees is a 2 percent cost-of- living raise and some salary adjustments which, according to Price, will ensure competitiveness among fire service agencies.

        To fund the 2012-13 budget, West Manatee Fire District commissioners increased the district’s assessment at a May 17 public hearing roughly $4 per household.

        The hike represented a 2.5 percent increase, below this year’s 3.16 percent assessment cap, as determined by Florida’s personal income growth factor.

        In other business:

        • Price introduced two new firefighters, Corry Hill and Tyler MacDonald, and promoted firefighter Andrew Lauricella, Lt. Ben Rigney and Battalion Chief Rich Jasinski.

        • A letter from U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, was read into the record, recognizing Capt. Tom Sousa for being awarded the 13th District Congressional Fire and Rescue/EMS Career Award.

        • Price also reported he’s been “dealing with vendors” on computer repair and replacement issues. He said a new computer is expected to address difficulties at Station 1, 6001 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.

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