Waterford fire services director: Department can meet budget targets

Waterford — Fire Services Director Bruce Miller told the Board of Finance at its meeting Wednesday that despite overspending in the service contract repairs portion of his department's budget, he thinks the department will not require additional appropriations at the end of the fiscal year.

During the regular review of Fire Services finances, Miller said some transfers within the department's budget may be necessary.

The board has conducted quarterly reviews of the department's budget since August, when selectmen questioned the department's high number of end-of-year transfers for the 2013 fiscal year. Wednesday's review roughly correlated to the third quarter, according to Miller.

"I'm working to try to make it within the total budget," Miller said in an interview last month, after sending a letter to board Chairman Ronald Fedor outlining specific expenses that played a role in overspending on repairs by about $7,500.

Many of the repairs were unanticipated, according to Miller. His May 12 letter cites roughly $16,700 for repairs linked to updating underground diesel fuel and heating oil storage tanks to bring them in line with new state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection guidelines.

The department also spent $4,570 to correct a sewage blockage at the Cohanzie Fire Company, according to the letter. Miller said last month that his department could not have predicted that problem.

Members of the Board of Finance had few comments in response to Miller's presentation, but board member Alan Wilensky said he saw "a couple just glaring non-spend accounts" in the department's budget, noting that the public safety awareness portion still had 90 percent of its funding, based on numbers from March.

Miller attributed that lack of spending to the community safety staff person leaving and a new staff person being hired.

The Fire Services department was created and the budgets for all five firehouses were consolidated in the 2013 fiscal year, according to Finance Director Rudie Beers. Miller's title changed from fire administrator to fire services director in 2012, and at that time he took on the new budgeting duties.

Miller and First Selectman Daniel Steward have said that the department's budgeting is improving.

"It's better. It's not to the level it should be yet, but again, it's a process," Steward said before the meeting Wednesday.



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