West Manatee Fire Rescue District commissioners held the first reading of the proposed 2014-15 budget Aug. 21.
WMFR Chief Andy Price, who prepared the spending plan, proposed an operating budget of $5.9 million, with $4.96 million (84 percent) for wages and benefits. Salaries are up 2.3 percent from the current year, Price said, and are keeping pace with the cost of living.
Price said the cost of health insurance, workers’ compensation and services needed by WMFR continue to rise.
The proposed budget is an increase of 2.6 percent from the $5.75 million budget of 2013-14.
“This is the last budget we’ll get from Andy,” Commission Chair Scott Ricci said.
Price is retiring in May 2015.
He thanked Price for his work, adding that commissioners need to be more active.
“Next year, we’ll get a budget from someone doing it for the first time, so we need to get more involved in the budget process. It’s been too easy to rely on Andy,” he said.
The proposed budget includes a capital reserve fund of $4.35 million for debt service. The current WMFR debt is $1.65 million.
Price said some minor adjustments would be made before September, when the budget is presented for the final time to the commission.
The final public hearing on the budget will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 18, at the WMFR administration building, 6417 Third Ave. W., Bradenton.