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2020 Budget Message 

The voter approval of a mill levy increase, effective in budget year 2020, combined with the identifying of operational needs have been the highlight of this 2020 budget process. A review of previous executive fire officer budget preferences demonstrated the need to move to a zero-based budget practice to ensure all available revenues are properly allocated to provide for the services the community is willing to fund. This zero-based budget practice was approved by the BFFRPD Board of Directors and will allow us to establish a clear multi-year strategy to address critical needs, restore operational shortfalls and capital backlogs, and to utilize all available resources to provide innovative solutions. With this, we can develop a new strategic plan along with a new financial plan to continue strengthening our operational deficiencies.
Voter approval of the increased mill levy, effective in budget year 2020, was a critical step in the right direction and this revenue source will greatly assist in addressing a backlog of personnel, facilities and equipment needs directly related to public safety. The voters clearly intended for recruitment and retention of employees to be a top priority; the 2020 budget follows through with that demand by the community. This allowed the District to hire several additional full-time employees, further solidifying staffing of a second fire station, and allowing employees the opportunity to continue employment with BFFRPD due to a competitive total compensation package. The employee total compensation expenses are $2,135,152 of the total $4,068,883 funds available; or 52.48% of the 2020 budget. In addition, the budget continues with upgrades in the District’s apparatus fleet and repairs and renovations of its facilities.
Prior to voter approval of the mill levy increase, critical needs included staffing, apparatus, and infrastructure. In 2020, the District will take delivery of two new ambulances and potentially a new command vehicle to replace deteriorating vehicles in the apparatus fleet. The District will also be setting funds aside as part of the purchase of a tactical tender to be delivered in 2021. The District is striving to continue to meet the demands of continued growth through proper planning to operate with as little debt as possible.
In 2019, the District established a separate Emergency Reserve account (above the required TABOR amount), in the sum of $100,000. In 2020, as part of the move to a zero-based budget, the District increased this amount to $200,000 (still above the required TABOR amount) and is establishing separate banking accounts to ensure there is no co-mingling of funds. These moves provide $200,000 in a District Emergency Reserve account and $80,161 for the District’s TABOR Reserve fund, for a combined Emergency Reserve of $280,161.
While revenue is projected to increase, the demands on the types and volumes of service delivery will also increase. It will take at least five years of favorable economic conditions to maintain adequate funding for base level operations while also attempting to invest further into human capital and operations. There will be a continued need to increase funding to address investment needs including facilities, infrastructure, fleet, and staffing. In recognizing these needs, our goals are to align the strategic plan, the financial plan, and the budget process into one cohesive master plan for BFFRPD from 2020 to 2025.
We continue to use conservative revenue projections, apply for revenue sources available through state, federal and other grant opportunities. We continue to “prepare for the worst economic conditions but
hope for the best” and will continue to balance the budget by addressing immediate needs only after thorough analysis of future impacts. With a focus toward long-term sustainability, recommendations to the Board of Directors will address immediate critical needs while assessing impacts for the next 10-15 years. We are still feeling the operational impacts of numerous years of budgetary restraints, but every effort is made to deliver high quality service to our citizens within the available resources. Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District operates within our allowable revenue sources and is working diligently to retain as much funding in emergency reserves as possible. Black Forest Fire Rescue’s administration is committed to providing sound and viable financial options that will only continue to improve the District’s overall financial condition and fiscal health.
It is with great appreciation to all those who participated in the 2020 budget process, the Board of Directors, the Treasurer of the Board, the BFFR Finance Director, the Deputy Fire Chief, the Fire Officers and their staff, and especially the support of the voters and public, that I submit the 2020 budget.
PJ Langmaid
Fire Chief (Interim)
Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District
11445 Teachout Rd., Colorado Springs, CO 80908
(719) 495-4300