Fire Protection District moves toward more financial accountability

Thursday, July 23, 2009 | 12:00 a.m. CDT
Tim Sweezer, Theron Marcellus, Matt Stone, Bob Bias, Clint Walker, Daniel Mueller and Ashton Lake stand in front of Boone County Fire Protection District headquarters' "Perseverance" statue Wednesday after being promoted to lieutenant.

COLUMBIA — Continuing a move toward increased financial accountability, the Boone County Fire Protection District released a budget proposal for 2010 that is much more detailed than previous years.

“There’s a lot more detail,” board member Shelly Dometrorch said following the district's Wednesday afternoon budget work session. “It’s so much better.”

The Fire District’s proposed budget for 2010 is 10 pages in length. Dometrorch said that in previous years, the budget was only one or two pages long.

This increase in clarity comes after years of financial ambiguity; the most recent debacle was an audit by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that determined the Fire District overpaid itself by more than $750,000 in Federal Emergency Management Agency funding, according to previous Missourian reports. The district contests several findings in the audit and is waiting for FEMA to complete its own audit of the district before any actions are taken.

The proposed budget, which is not finalized, allocates $3,551,564.93 for 2010. This is an increase of more than $11,000 from the 2009 budget.

A board meeting followed the budget work session, and seven volunteer firefighters were promoted to lieutenant.

Interim Fire Chief Scott Olsen read each name as they took their helmets, shook the hands of board members and posed for photos. The new lieutenants, along with family, friends and colleagues, then posed as a group in front of “Perseverance,” the bronze statue that stands in front of the Fire District headquarters on I-70 Drive Northwest.

“I’m very excited to add these (lieutenants) to the Fire District,” Olsen said.

Also during the meeting, Dometrorch reported on the Fire District’s search for a new fire chief. Emergency Services Consulting International, the consulting firm that took the applications for the position, gave the board a list of 19 people who applied for the position before the July 15 deadline.

ESCI scored and ranked the applicants based on its own specific criteria. Dometrorch said there were 1,400 possible points, and that the highest-ranking applicant scored 1,275. She also said several of the lowest-ranking applicants did not qualify for the position.

Board member John Gordon said Olsen was one of the 19 candidates.

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Richard Hayden July 23, 2009 | 10:48 a.m.

We have the perfect template to look at here. Choosing the best qualities of the former Chief but none of the poorer ones to make sure the next Chief is more accountable.

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