The process of approving the Howell Area Fire Authority’s budget for the upcoming year is moving along.

Each of the member municipalities must individually approve the budget, which was done by the Howell City Council during Monday night’s meeting. Among the highlights for the proposed 2019/2020 budget include the addition of one full-time firefighter, increased monies in the equipment fund for future apparatus replacement, continued replacement of firefighter turnout gear, the purchase of an additional LUCAS CPR device, proposed wage increases/adjustments for all employees, a physical fitness incentive program and an upgrade to new fire reporting software. The budget also allows for the continued weekend staffing at the main fire station year-round. There was discussion during Monday’s meeting that the department is still moving in the direction of having 24-hour coverage, just not at this time.

A memo from Fire Chief Andy Pless states the remainder of the budget allows for slight increases for inflation and they will continue to fund their building reserve and retiree health funds to ensure that monies will be available for future needs. Pless noted that all of the changes can be accomplished while maintaining a well balanced budget. (JM)