The Plain Township trustees reviewed Fire Chief John Hoovler's preliminary budget figures Jan. 8 and learned that the fire department could have a $641,000 deficit in 2016.
Hoovler's figures show the department spent $5.2 million in 2013. He anticipates expenses increasing in 2014 to $5.5 million, in 2015 to $5.6 million and in 2016 to $5.7 million.
The budget document anticipates a slight revenue decrease of $35,000 in 2014 with revenues staying flat in 2015 and 2016, which could require the department to use part of its carryover to cover increasing expenses. The revenue projections are $4,692,100 in 2014 and $4,727,100 in 2015 and 2016.
The fire department collects money from four levies, which were approved in 1983, 1990, 2000 and 2008. All are permanent and are used for operating costs; the combined millage is 12.2 mills.
Trustee David Ferguson asked how soon the fire department would need to consider a levy to prevent a deficit.
Hoovler said it's better to put a levy on the ballot during a gubernatorial election, which will take place this fall.
Hoovler said department officials would need to study the figures further before moving forward with any levy request.
He said each time the fire department has asked for a levy, it has promised voters to maintain expenses for at least five years without another levy request. He said the department has been able to stretch levy cycles out to seven or eight years, which benefits the community.
Last year, each trustee sat down with Hoovler individually and went through the budget. He requested trustees do that again this year.
Ferguson said before the fire department would make any levy requests, it would have to check with the New Albany-Plain Local School District, which also raises funds through property-tax levies.