.....Advertisement.....
.....Advertisement.....

Inter-Canyon Fire approves 2014 budget

-A A +A

District attempting to restore reserve fund in wake of theft

By Daniel Laverty

The Inter-Canyon Fire Protection District had a memorable 2013, but for all the wrong reasons.

“Last year’s theme was ‘survive,’ ” said Karl Firor, treasurer for the Inter-Canyon board of directors. “This year’s theme is, ‘It’s going to be a little bit better than last year.’ ”

Inter-Canyon’s board unanimously approved the department’s 2014 budget at last month’s meeting. The budget funds Inter-Canyon’s operations at its four stations and starts to rebuild the district’s decimated reserve fund.

The district and its residents were rocked when allegations of theft and embezzlement surfaced last October against former fire chief Dave MacBean.

The former chief is accused in the theft of approximately $643,000 from Inter-Canyon’s reserve fund over a three-year period. MacBean’s arraignment is scheduled for Jan. 27.

Inter-Canyon officials have refused to discuss specifics of the case but have made changes in the department’s day-to-day operations.

The district has increased security measures (installed electronic locks in each of its four stations) and tightened its financial processes by getting rid of district credit cards and implementing a new purchase-approval system.

Inter-Canyon board President Michael Reddy said the district will pursue restitution after MacBean’s criminal trial.

“No one wants to have this happen,” Firor said. “Trust was broken, but there are lessons to be learned. The department is continuously improving itself.”

The 2014 budget

In 2008, voters approved a 1.5-mill tax increase, bringing Inter-Canyon’s tax rate to 10.59 mills, which costs the owner of a $300,000 home a total of $252.89 annually.

The district expects to receive $810,290 in revenue from property and other taxes in 2014. The budget also anticipates $76,552 in ambulance fees, grants and donations.

The district’s administrative costs are estimated at $252,593, and that covers station maintenance, insurance and day-to-day expenses.

“It’s the basic firefighting stuff,” Firor said. “That covers the operating costs for all four stations.”

The district will make a payment of $145,575 on a loan taken out in 2012 to purchase vehicles. Money raised from 2008’s 1.5-mill increase was designated for a vehicle replacement plan — which would be completed in 2022. The first purchases were scheduled for 2011-12.

Inter-Canyon was forced to take out the loan to finalize its vehicle purchases after discovering the money in its reserve fund was gone. It’s the second year out of four that the district will make a payment on the loan.

The budget also allocates 15 percent of 2014’s revenue — approximately $133,000 — to be deposited into the reserve fund.

Firor said the district’s reserves are currently $150,000, and that a strategic planning meeting with the board will be scheduled for next month to discuss plans to restore the reserve fund.

“What will be our options if we receive full restitution? What will be our options if we receive half … or nothing?” he said. “We’ll be looking at all options and possibilities.”

Inter-Canyon is eligible to receive $100,000 from its insurance policy through the Special District Association of Colorado but cannot collect until the judicial process runs its course.

For more information, visit www.intercanyonfire.org or call 303-697-4413. The next Inter-Canyon board meeting is at 7 p.m. Jan. 8 at Inter-Canyon Station 1, 7939 S. Turkey Creek Road in Morrison.

Contact Daniel Laverty at Daniel@evergreenco.comor at 303-350-1042. Follow him on Twitter at @LavertyReports.