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No Tax Increase Expected in Fire District Budget

The fire election vote is Saturday.

 

For the fifth year in a row, the fire district budget—which voters will go to the polls for Saturday—will pose no tax increase to residents here.

The total Cinnaminson Fire District budget for 2013 is $3,748,628. Of that, $2,741,234 will be raised by taxation. The remaining funds are from budget surplus, grants and more.

In October, voters approved a referendum for the fire department to go out to bid for two fire trucks. About half of the $1 million needed for the trucks was saved for over the years, Fire Chief William Kramer said.

“We’re in pretty good shape,” Kramer said. “It truly is the work of all the different entities that make up the district—commissioners, management team and career staff.”

Most of the fire district budget goes to salaries—about $1.9 million of it. Capital purchases and health insurance are second while vehicle maintenance and leases, utilities, programs and more make up the rest of the budget.

The fire district tax has remained the same for the last five years, Kramer said.

“It’s relatively the same budget with the exception of the apparatus acquisition,” Kramer said.

Kramer said he expects specifications on the two new trucks back from the district’s private contractor this week. They could go out to bid soon.

The vote will be held from 2 to 9 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 16, at the community center.

“We do everything we can to keep the increases down,” Kramer said. “We see no reason why we wouldn’t get significant community support.”

Ric February 16, 2013 at 02:40 PM
I hope voters send a wakeup call to the fire chief by voting down this much too extravagant budget. How can he justify a budget of almost $4m when we have a major fire only once every several years? The budget is far in excess of what is needed - to the point that the fire department will not even disclose how large of a surplus it is carrying on its books. There is no tax increase because there is a huge surplus. Why does a fire department need a fire chief, fire inspector, fire official and an administrator at a cost of $300k a year not including their benefits when most calls they get are just routine? Either the position of fire official or fire inspector should be eliminated and the functions be shared by the remaining administrators. A no vote will not close the fire department; but, it will force the fire chief to cut back his lavish spending and reduce the taxes levied on the taxpayers. Just say no to our fire chief’s excessive spending. Our township has many expensive projects it wants to spend money on. To pay for those projects the fire district needs to stop spending money lavishly. Our police department suffered draconian cuts while our fire department spends money like there is no tomorrow. Vote no today. Send a message that enough is enough.
Bull Pitt February 16, 2013 at 03:12 PM
@ Mark, that number for Moorestown is the TOTAL Fire budget. I don't understand why we can't compare Moorestown to Cinnaminson. They are right next door, their town is close in size and their population is larger. Their tax base is also larger, meaning they pay more taxes than Cinnaminson, yet their Fire budget is $750,000 less. We also do not need both Cinnaminson Departments. Sell the properties and build one nice new one, more in the center of town. Merge all equipment vehicles and officers and save taxpayers money.
Ric February 16, 2013 at 04:23 PM
I hope voters vote down this much too costly budget. How can the fire chief justify a budget of almost $4m when there is a major fire In Cinnaminson only once every several years? The 2013 budget is far in excess of what is needed. It is full of excess surpluses to the point that the fire department will not even disclose how large of a surplus it is carrying on its books. Why does a fire department need a fire chief, fire inspector, fire official and an administrator at a cost of $300k a year not including their benefits when most calls they get are just routine? Either the position of fire official or fire inspector should be eliminated and the functions be shared by the remaining administrators. A quick look at the Cinnaminson website shows the fire district has far more chiefs than workers. A no vote on the budget will not close the fire department; but, it will force the fire chief to cut back his lavish spending and reduce the taxes levied on the taxpayers. Our school district wants to build a new high school; we need to cut taxes across the board to pay for the new school. So the fire district needs to stop spending money lavishly. Our police department suffered draconian cuts while our fire department spends money like there is no tomorrow. Vote no today. Send a message that enough is enough.
Ric February 16, 2013 at 06:26 PM
Bull Pitt, you are absolutely right, we do not need two fire departments. Cinnaminson is almost half the size of Moorestown. Cinnaminson would be better served if we built one station centrally located as you suggested. Perhaps we should build it on Rt. 130 at the Garden State Motel location. Not only would the merging of all equipment vehicles and officers and save taxpayers money. It would allow our volunteers to spend more time with their families since there would only be one station to maintain. Right now there are four chiefs, three captains, six lieutenants, fire marshal, fire inspector, seven commissioners, and fourteen administrative officers. There are a lot more people at the fire department than at our police department. Do we need such a large staff for a town that sees a major fire only once every few years? Cinnaminson needs to send a message to our bloated fire department by voting no to the budget.
Kurt Strauss February 16, 2013 at 06:40 PM
So Eric, did you vote?
Pirate_Parent February 16, 2013 at 06:49 PM
I voted NO. While I agree you can not compare Cinnaminson with Moorestown or any other department I still feel the budget is wildly extravagant. For example, I was recently informed that in addition to their usual paid-firefighters (the ones whom the township employs full-time) they are also paying their "volunteers" to "volunteer" - some making $10,000+/yr. With a full-time career staff and a limited number of calls I don't understand why this is needed - it's just extravagant spending - other towns do not do this and still manage to go to their calls & they do not have a 24/7 full-time staff (ie Delran, Palmyra, Riverton). Apparently they forgot the definition of "volunteer" vol·un·teer /ˌvälənˈti(ə)r/ Noun A person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task. Verb Freely offer to do something. VOTE NO!
Tom February 16, 2013 at 07:18 PM
All of you that are complaining come out and volunteer your time. (IE. every Monday day night, some Saturdays or any time during the week that something comes up, and that is for training, and for the last 3 hrs putting out a house fire. That I am sure no of you have the guts to do.) So stop sitting behind your key board and come out and see what else we do. Stop telling everybody what they should do. Thanks.
John February 16, 2013 at 08:26 PM
OH ok, lets adopt a fire hydrant from the snow that the public works dept puts next to it I believe that its the public works dept job to do it right or do they just issue summons for leaves, branches and not following the guidelines....oh boy another scofflaw is coming get ready people....Lets see how many chagers are not listed in the line by line budget maybe thats why your not getting the info....great
Ric February 16, 2013 at 08:47 PM
@Pirate Parent. In 2012 Cinnaminson paid the firefighters $948,000. It pays well to volunteer. To put that in perspective, that $948,000 could have paid for 10 or 12 teachers or cops.
fire stopper February 17, 2013 at 09:14 AM
Then leave the snow around the hydrant if it's such a burden. Clearing snow is not the toughest thing a fire fighter will do in their life time. The hydrants are there for YOUR protection, The extra seconds. Or minutes it takes to clear them for use will feel like hours if it's your house on fire but by all means, When it snows and you're out shoveling, Don't take a few moments and clear the hydrants...Just sit at your computer and complain about stupid stuff...P.S, I'm a volunteer who doesn't get paid a dime and I don't mind clearing snow before I save your family/property so just sit there, It's OK.
Ric February 17, 2013 at 02:31 PM
@firestopper. Thank you for volunteering. I am about 10 houses away from the hydrant but I will in the future keep close watch on it. I am trying to understand the fire department’s budget. The fire district paid $948,800 to fire fighters in 2012. How many fire fighters are considered paid employees and how many are considered unpaid volunteers?
DAVID February 17, 2013 at 03:52 PM
MR RIC, ARE YOUR FIGURES ABOUT AMOUNT OF FIRE PERSONEL ACCURATE? HOW IN THE WORLD DID THIS COMMITTEE JUSTIFY TEARING DOWN OUR PD, GETTING RID OF OUR DISPATCHERS, AND CUTTING PUBLICS WORKS PERSONEL, WHILE ALLOWING A FIRE DEPARTMENT TO GROW LARGER THAN OUR PD? AND DON'T GIVE ME THIS CRAP ABOUT IT NOT BEING YOUR TAX DOLLARS! WE ALL PAY TAXES FOR OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS TO SEE THAT THEY GO WHERE THEY SHOULD. IF THEY SEE AN INJUSTICE, IT IS THEIR RESPONSIBILITY TO FIX IT. THIS IS CRAZY! AND ANOTHER THING, WHY CAN'T WE COMPARE CINNAMINSON TO MOORESTOWN? WE ARE CONSTANTLY COMPARING OUR TOWN TO EVERY TOWN AROUND US. IF MOORESTOWN RUNS THEIR FIRE DEPARTMENT ADEQUATELY AND IS ALMOST A MILLION BUCKS CHEAPER, I WANT TO KNOW WHY. ARE WE HANDLING MORE FIRES? DO WE RESCUE MORE CATS? OR IS IT THEY SIMPLY DON'T PAY 4 CHIEFS, 3 CAPTAINS AND 6 LIEUTENANTS? HOW MANY CAPTAINS AND LIEUTENANTS DOES OUR PD HAVE? I KNOW WE DON'T EVEN HAVE A CHIEF. WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON IN THIS TOWN!? AND I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW ABOUT THIS VOTE UNTIL TODAY!
John February 17, 2013 at 05:17 PM
Well fire stopper, then place the blame on the people that plow the streets...the snow does not get there by itself unless we have 40 inches of the white stuff....If U want to get it cleaned have the dept of public works do there job, I am 66 years old and I am lucky that I do not have a hydrant near my house....so sorry but if I had a heart attack who would pay the bills the township, do not think so....goood luck????
John February 18, 2013 at 12:22 AM
@David, as one person put it, the Fire Dept is not rule by the committee....they are a separate part of the tax bill therefore like the schools and other things its a separate part and they do what they want....Your right, I did not see anything about the vote unless U read the patch....Only 2% of our 8000 residents voted so something is fishy in this town and to top it off if U try to get a comparison of 2012 expenses to 2013 projected expenses U get the run around....go to the office and see what U get....and to let U know the fire taxes went up 1 cent the last 2 years so this bull about not raising taxes is alot of bull....enjoy the new tax rates....we have our schools next....OH WELL THATS LIFE HERE...
Tom February 18, 2013 at 01:37 AM
@david your are right the pd does not a chief they have a psd, that runs he pd but he can't do any police work because he is not a sworn police officer. So you pay him to push paper and that is it. (Waste of money yes) they need to move Lt. Young into the chief's position. the fd chief can do anything on the fire side and he pushes paperwork. Waste of money no. Comparing Moorestown to Cinnaminson, no you can't we have 14 paid firemen ( fire marshal, fire inspector, 3 Lt.'s and the rest are firemen) Moorestown has none. And that is why your a million dollars cheaper. And by the way the Cfd has about 30 active members volunteers (maybe more) you will have to ask the Cfd that part.
Ric February 18, 2013 at 02:44 AM
Tom, I think your attack on the police department is not justified. Our PD has just one centrally located station. Why does the FD need two stations - both at the town’s far borders? I will concede Moorestown has two fire stations but that town is about twice as large as us. Surely it would be better to have just one station centrally located near the PD. The fire department is up to its eyeballs in expensive administrators. It has four chiefs: Line Chief Kramer, Line Deputy Chief Sconfeld, Battalion Chief Harry Smith, and Battalion Chief Scott Stavely. There are chiefs just to chief the two battalion chiefs. You know just salaries alone, the four top fire administrators pull in $300k while the fire fighters get &949k. This has been asked before, how many of the firefighters share the $949k salary the fire department reports? Tom, no one is disputing the quality of services rendered by the FD. The problem is the price of those services is excessive. Certainly by this time next year the FD will be forced to cut back as the town struggles to find ways to pay for a new school. I hope a rising star in the FD has the foresight to propose significant changes to the way the FD is run. I am sure that person that takes a lead in curbing the fire department’s excessive spending will go far in the town government.
Tom February 18, 2013 at 02:55 PM
Your are right about the the Cfd they do have a chief, dep, chief, and 2 batt. Chief's but they are not paid full time career people. The are volunteers, the get a stipend. If I am correct I think the Cfd about 10 years ago tried to get the ok to get central location for a new fire house but it was shot down by the township committee. Because they said the Cfd did not need one. So if you want you can thank them for that. They did not want to lose any possible tax money that could come in from a business. So if you want come out and tell the district that you want them to build a new build for the fire department now. Building a fire house and a new school have fun paying that bill because I sure am not I will move in a heart beat. I am not saying anything bad about the CPD they do a great job I just think that paying a PSD is a waste of money when if something goes down he can not do anything police related. They need to go back the way it was with a chief, maybe 2 Lt.'s and so on. I think the CPD was a better run department then.
John February 18, 2013 at 06:27 PM
Hey Tom, good luck in trying to sell your house with an over assessed tax value to market value....your stuck, so sorry....
Ric February 18, 2013 at 06:35 PM
Tom, let me start off with: I suspect next year someone with political savvy will turn support against the FD. Perhaps a fiscal conservative town council member will take it up. Or maybe a fire department member will run against the budget to further his or her political career. The same number of people voted in 2013 as 2012. But the number of no votes went up 50%. If 25 more voters can be persuaded just to vote no the next FD budget would be defeated. All it takes is getting the police or other township employees turn their support against the FD. And why wouldn’t they? They all suffer cutbacks so the township can fund excesses of the FD. That is just a shift of 25 votes. There are more paid employees at our fire department than at Moorestown’s FD, a rich town, which is almost double the size of Cinnaminson. Our FD is way over staffed and way overpaid. The fire department is close to double the size of the Cinnaminson police force. And we see a major fire every couple of years. Tom, what I enjoy the most about your explanations is usually clear things up but not this time. How can you call our chief Kramer a volunteer when he is paid close to $100,000? None of the four chiefs can be called a volunteer because they all are paid. Do you agree? How many of the firefighters do not share in any of that $948,800 that is paid to the firefighters?
Tom February 18, 2013 at 06:57 PM
You must not be listing so I'm done explaining go to your next fire district meeting and ask them to see if what I am saying is true, then maybe I will entertain you after that. As usual most people only hear what they want to hear. Oh ya by the the CFD does not just provide as you said only a few major fires. They provide EMS, fire alarms, CO alarms, rescue of all different things cars, people suck on fences, and so on. So you are right about one thing and that is that the CFD does only have a major fire every few years. But because of the paid and volunteers of the CFD most of the fires that they have are stopped very fast IE this past Saturday on Election Day, but I bet you and you buddy's will think that was a set up also.
William Kramer February 18, 2013 at 07:18 PM
RIC. You are speaking as if you know everything about the department. Virtually all of you comments and assumptions are incorrect. If you would like to ask questions and receive answers then attend a public meeting of the board of fire commissioners which is the third Tuesday evening of every month at 7:30 pm in the Mayor's conference room. The questions and answers will be recorded in the minutes so that anyone can refer to them if they are misrepresented in the future. In fact that meeting is tomorrow evening. Hope to see you there. Our department is staffed with one full time engine company 24/7. This takes 12 full time firefighters on three platoons to accomplish. Each platoon is headed by a Lieutenant, which unlike the PD, is a first line supervisor similar to a Sergeant. The fire official and fire inspector are not administrators. They enforce the state fire codes by conducting over 1,000 inspections per year, issue hundreds of permits all of which require an inspection, investigate fires, conduct fire safety education programs in businesses and schools, and do respond to fires. The chief position is currently vacant and I serve in that position as a volunteer who receives a stipend. The board is considering its options with respect to filling that position. The full time rank positions have been reduced by 20 percent over the past few years. All of the other officers are volunteer. Continued on next post
William Kramer February 18, 2013 at 07:20 PM
Continued from last post With respect to the comment by a.cinnaminson.resident about me not returning his call, he is incorrect. I did return his call on Friday but he didn't answer. Interesting that the name he left for me to call, Bill Johnson, was not the name on his voice mail. And with respect to him suggesting that I am an old autocrat fire chief he should know that I am a 40 year veteran volunteer who over the past five years that i have held this position has guided my officer staff into applying for and receiving over 350,000 in grants with three more recently submitted. I would challenge him to match my commitment to our community. If anyone would like to speak to me directly you can leave your real name and number at 856-829-5220. Bill Kramer
Tom February 18, 2013 at 08:01 PM
@ric isn't that what I said..... About the line officers and the career firemen. But I guess I don't know what I'm talking about. Thanks for the info Chief.
Mark February 18, 2013 at 08:33 PM
Very well said Chief!
bull-ric February 18, 2013 at 10:03 PM
Great post Chief Kramer. Ignore losers like John, Ric, and Bull Pitt. They've got no lives and nothing good to say about anything. Nor do they have the you know whats to get up and say any of this in public. It is interesting that fellow keyboard coward "Mark" who regularly joins in their negativity and coucil bashing is throwing stones at them. Guess we can add hypocrite between the words keyboard and coward! You all need to get a life already or move out of Cinnaminson if you don't like it.
Ric February 19, 2013 at 12:09 AM
@Chief Kramer - 1 0f 2 Before I start, no one, including myself, is denigrating the services of the FD. I appreciate those who serve the public. Both of my grandfathers were cops, one died in service in Jersey City – but that was back during the depression but my mother told me much about him.. Thank you for the invitation. The information I am requesting should be shared with the general public and the Patch is a better forum to reach to all the good citizens who choose not to attend council meetings. I do not think either of us has to worry that the Patch editors will edit what is being said. As you well know, if 25 votes went the other way, your 2013 budget would have been defeated. Many voters want to know the size of a surplus on the FD’s books and how much more of a surplus is in the 2013 budget. There is not a tax increase for 2013 because of surplus but no details are given to residents about the surplus. Will you please advise about the surplus? I am glad to read that staffing has been reduced in the past few years. But frankly more has to be trimmed. I do not believe it should take a fire chief, a fire marshal, a chief, fire inspector, and an administrator to handle only a 1,000 inspections per year and issue hundreds of permits, etc. That workload averages out to 1.5 inspections/permits per person per workday.
Ric February 19, 2013 at 12:10 AM
@Chief Kramer - 2 0f 2 Also, please explain how that $948,800 is paid to the fire fighters? Other than to call it “stipend” you don’t explain how firefighters are paid. As it has been pointed out by many, our town is much smaller (and poorer) to Moorestown yet our FD is much more costly. And at the same time, both of our fire stations are located on our far borders (and on the same side of Rt. 130). I believe Cinnaminson would be better served by one brand new fire station which is centrally located near the PD. It could be easily afforded by selling the two other stations and economies of scale – eliminating personnel and equipment which was only required by the two station setup. In closing, I hope you will explain the surpluses as well as payroll costs and consider bold ways to run the fire department efficiently for us tax payers that are about to be asked to pay for a new high school.
Resident Since 1961 February 19, 2013 at 10:52 PM
Well Ric, you still don't get it. We have one paid Engine Company that can get to you fast while the volunteers bring up the rear and complete the job. Great math with the 1.5 inpsections, but if you knew what you were talking about you would know that only the Fire Prevention Office is authorized by state law and must be licensed to conduct inspections. If they went to one station they may not be able to reduce the Fire Engines, something called "fire Flow and Department ISO rating. Say we eliminated two engines, your home owners insurance may increase by $300 to $500 per year because our ISO Rating (rated 1 to 9) may drop 2 points or so. Just think for a little more than the cost of a pack of Marlboro's each week ($8.47 or so) We get Fire Service, EMS Engine, Inspections, and more. Every year they have saved numerous lives and property. Most of the surplus is genetated when they get a grant, and can use the budgeted line item for tax offset and savings. I think your barking up the wroung tree, attend some meetings and learn something, unless unfounded opinions are your MO.
Ric February 19, 2013 at 11:56 PM
@Resident since 1761, Let me ask again: 1.) Is the surplus that the CFD is hiding in excess of one million, five million, or more than ten million dollars? 2.) How many firefighters share in the $948,800 that was budgeted? Is it 10 firefighters getting $94,800 a year? Now why are of all of you guys at the firestation avoiding telling the truth about your hidden surplus and wages? As far as homeowner’s insurance, most residents would pay lower premiums with a centerally located fire station instead of two stations located on our far borders. Of course thos who live in Delran and Palmyra would benefit by our stations being practically in their towns. I am not going to respons to anything else you said because you are trying to divert attention from the surplus and payroll excesses. Let me end by saying: 1.) Is the surplus that the CFD is hiding in excess of one million, five million, or more than ten million dollars? 2.) How many firefighters share in the $948,800 that was budgeted? Is it 10 firefighters getting $94,800 a year? WHY IS THE CFD AFRAID OF TELLING TAXPAYERS ABOUT THE SURPLUS BEING SQUIRELED AWAY AND THE SALARIES BEING PAID FIREFIGHTERS?
William Kramer February 22, 2013 at 10:27 PM
Ric. We are not hiding anything. No matter what you are told you are going to disagree. You are the one avoiding the truth by continuing to speak about things you have no clue of. An example is your comment in the post about Mr. Phillips where you state that the fire department is hiding "millions" of dollars in surplus. Did you ever wonder why no other public offiicals (elected or appointed) reply on Patch anymore? It is because of people like you. So you see you are actually doing a dis-service by you constant negativity and spreading your misinformation. I will anwer your two questions and then will not reply to you on this venue again. 1. The Cinnamindon Fire District is anticipating a $200,000 surplus by the end of FY13. That is less than the 10% recommended in sound municipal accounting practices. However, based on unanticipated expenses this may go down or in the event of unanticapted revenue and less expenses may go up. 2. As stated numerous times, we have 14 sworn full time personnel. They are the ones that recieve salaries. Not sure why that has not clear to you. By the way, the fire marhsla and fire inspector generates enough revene to offset their actual salaries. If you want any more information, attend a meeting of the Board of Fire Commissioners. I noticed you were not there last Tuesday. Bill Kramer, Chief

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