The Hartland Township Board of Trustees reviewed the upcoming budget for the fire department with a cautious eye towards the future.

Hartland Deerfield Fire Authority Chief Adam Carroll presented an early budget proposal to the board during their information and discussion session following their regular meeting Tuesday night. Many on the board spoke with concern about the rising cost of operations. With the current budget having been set at $1.42 million, they questioned and looked for reasons for next year’s estimated $1.6 million needed. Township Supervisor Bill Fountain said they’re still not back to bringing in pre-recession revenue dollars. He noted the $1.2 million in revenue from 2008-09, and said it still might be another couple years before they hit that again. Fountain said the Fire Authority is living within their means, but that they have to be prepared for what happens in the next 3 to 4 years before the millage is re-upped.

Township Manager James Wickman hinted at something needing to change by the time the current millage is up to counteract the rising costs. That could be a higher millage in 4 years. Some members of the board were also curious about Deerfield and Tyrone Township’s stake in the budget. Health care costs in the new budget have also gone up 50% since the 2013-14 budget. Fountain said this is something that is happening across the board, and that the department may need to begin exploring the option of having employees pay into it, like other township employees. Meanwhile, Carroll is searching for ways to keep the Authority competitive with others in the region. He stated a need to attract and retain part-time employees, while trying to secure with them that his department is their top priority. The Fire Authority’s budget will need to be passed as part of the township’s which is due April 1st. (MK)