The St. Louis Area Fire Department received a clean bill of financial health from auditors who examined the department’s accounting books for the year ending June 30, 2017.
“In our opinion, the financial statements… present fairly, in all material respects the respective financial position of the governmental activities and the major fund of Mid Michigan Community Fire Board District as of June 30, 2017, and the respective changes in financial position for the year then ended in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America,” said the report by Berthiaume & Company of Saginaw.
The fire department is owned and operated by the Mid-Michigan Community Fire Control Board. The board was established in 1981 through collaborative efforts of the City of St. Louis, Bethany Township, Pine River Township (all in Gratiot County), and Jasper Township (Midland County). It is governed by a five member board representing all four municipalities.
The fire district encompasses roughly 83 square miles and a population of just under 8,000. It is primarily a rural, agricultural community but includes a windmill farm, oil fields, two state prisons, state and interstate highways, and light manufacturing.
The fire department is staffed by 25 part-paid, on-call firefighters, many of whom also serve as medical first responders.
The fire board district’s primary source of revenue comprises contributions from member townships and the city of St. Louis. For fiscal year 2017 the city and townships kicked in $260,000, representing 87 percent of total revenue. The rest of it came from state grants ($531), charges for services ($20,795), interest ($268) and “other revenue” ($16,615).
Here’s what each city and township is expected to contribute in the coming 2019 fiscal year:
St. Louis: $93,341
Bethany Township: $42,972
Jasper Township: $71,291
Pine River Township: $62,621
The proposed 2019 fiscal year budget calls for the following salaries and per diem rates:
Fire chief: $2,448 annual
Assistant chief: $1,479 annual
Captain: $985 annual
Lieutenant: $617 annual
2nd Lieutenant: $281 annual
Equipment officer: $561 annual
Training officer: $561 annual
Fire Fighter II runs/drills: $28.05 per run
Rookie runs/drills: $9.69 per run
Rescue runs: $25.25 per run
The projected cost per service run for fiscal year 2019 is $231 for rescue runs and $2,336 for fire runs.
The fire district also maintains a fund balance of $175,000 to pay for new equipment when the time is right.
Fire chief’s report
Fire Chief Richard Apps’ report at Tuesday’s fire board meeting is expected to include the following:
Trevor Crispin and Justin Palmer are enrolled in Isabella County Fire Academy.
John Henry has returned from a leave of absence.
Scott Mizer has moved out of the area and resigned from the department.
A water level indicator was replaced on the department’s 1996 Luverne Pumper.
A solenoid to an electric cord reel was replaced on the department’s 2012 Spencer Pumper.
Assistant Fire Chief Joe Pronesti of Elyria, Ohio will visit St. Louis March 10 to teach a class on the challenges of fighting fires in century old downtown buildings.
From the city’s web site:
The fire station at 220 S. Main Street was dedicated on April 20, 2016. The facility cost just under $1.3 million to construct. It was fully paid for at the time of the dedication through grants from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, the Rollin M Gerstacker Foundation, the Charles J. Strosacker Foundation, and the Gratiot County Community Foundation, with the balance paid by the member municipalities. The structure is highly serviceable and very energy efficient with LED lighting, and in-floor heating. It was built with anticipation of the structure serving the fire department for the next 50 years.
The fire board meets at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13, at St. Louis City Hall. The public is welcome to attend.