Purpose of the Budget
The District budget document serves two purposes. First is to provide our community and the Board of Fire Commissioners with a clear picture of the services provided by Central Whidbey Island Fire & Rescue, the cost of those services, and the policy decisions underlying the District’s financial decisions. The second purpose of the budget document is to provide the District’s management with a financial and operating plan that complies with regulatory requirements for fire districts in the State of Washington and exemplifies best practices in budgeting and financial reporting.
The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) of the United States and Canada presented a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award to CWIFR for its annual budget for the fiscal year beginning January 1, 2015. In order to receive this award, a governmental unit must publish a budget document that meets program criteria as a policy document, as an operations guide, as a financial plan, and as a communications device. This is the second consecutive year that CWIFR has received this award.
A new addition to CWIFR budget documentation is the Budget Summary. This document is intended to provide an overview of CWIFR’s annual budget and financial position in an easy to understand and simplified format.
Organization of the Budget Document
CWIFR’s budget is divided into the following sections:
Table of Contents
A table of contents is provided to simplify navigation. In the PDF version of the budget, the table of contents is hyperlinked to the related sections of the budget.
Readers’ Guide to the Budget
The readers’ guide provides an overview of the Budget Document and navigation.
The transmittal is the Fire Chief’s budget message to the Board of Fire Commissioners and the community.
This section of the Budget Document provides an overview of the district including governance; values, mission, and vision for the future; services provided; boundaries, organization and staffing; and an overview of the District’s strategic plan.
The financial overview provides an outline of the District’s revenue streams, budget assumptions, budget organization and process, basis of accounting, financial policies and financial summaries.
This section of the Budget Document provides an overview of the General Fund and specific information on each Division including a description of programs and responsibilities, challenges and opportunities, division budget, major expenditures, and the strategic goals and initiatives that will be addressed in 2017.
This section of the budget provides an overview of the Contingency Fund and detail of fund transfers in the preceding two years.
Capital Projects Fund
This section of the budget provides an overview of the Capital Projects Fund, a schedule of capital projects, and current year capital projects justification.
Compensated Absences Fund
This section of the budget defines the District’s liabilities for compensated absences and provides an overview of the Compensated Absences Fund.
Debt Service Fund
The District has established a Debt Service Fund as an element of its budget and financial management practices. However, the District currently has no debt and this section is not included in the 2017 Budget.
Grants Management Fund
The District has established a Grants Management Fund as an element of its budget and financial management practices to separately account for grant funds received from state or federal government or from other sources. However, the District currently has no grants and this section is not included in the 2017 Budget.
The reference section documents the source material cited in the Budget Document.
Copies of the District’s levy certification, tax increase resolution, and budget adoption resolutions are included in Appendix A.
Glossary of Terms
A glossary of terms is provided in Appendix B.
Long Term Financial Plan
A summary of the District’s long term financial plan is provided in Appendix C. The complete Long Term Financial Plan can be downloaded from the District’s web site.
During 2016 revision of the District’s Strategic Plan, community input reinforced the importance of excellent service delivered in a cost effective manner. Toward that end, CWIFR established strategic goals to be fiscally responsible, to operate with transparency, and to ensure adequate and sustainable funding.
The District is currently debt-free and operates under a balanced budget. The Board of Fire Commissioners has adopted a comprehensive set of financial policies and guidelines intended to provide a solid basis for fiscal responsibility and in 2015, the District successfully completed its first financial audit by the Washington State Auditor which examined five-year of the District’s finances and financial practices. This audit was completed successfully.
The District endeavors to be transparent, providing a budget summary to District residents in its fall newsletter and providing access to the complete Budget Document for download on its website (www.cwfire.org). In addition, the Monthly Budget Position Report, Annual Financial Reports, and Audit Reports are also available for download from the District’s web site. The District was honored to receive a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) for its annual budget for the fiscal year beginning January 1, 2016. This was the third consecutive year in which the District has received this prestigious award.
The 2017 Adopted District budget is 3.47% higher than in 2016. The majority of this increase is due to onetime expenses related to presenting a bond measure to the District’s voters in 2017. Absent these onetime expenses, the increase in the District’s 2017 Adopted Budget would be 0.87%. This increase is within the District’s long term financial plan and budgeted funds provide for improvement over current service delivery levels with a continued increase in volunteer staffing. Overall, the District is fiscally healthy. We are debt free, with sufficient revenue to meet current operational needs and maintain an adequate ending balance in the General Fund.
Since the establishment of the District’s Capital Projects Fund in 2012, considerable progress has been made towards funding of long term apparatus and equipment needs. However, funding is not sufficient to meet capital facility needs identified in the District’s Long Term Facilities Plan. Due to constitutional and statutory limits on taxation, the District also faces a challenge in maintaining current service delivery levels beyond 2020 without voter approval for additional revenue.
Over the last several years, District staff has worked to develop a Capital Facilities Plan to address the current and future needs of our community and a Long Term Financial Plan examining how we can address these needs in a fiscally responsible manner. The Long Term Financial Plan examines several options to maintain current service levels while addressing major capital needs including fire station renovation and expansion; and replacement of three fire engines that will reach their end of service life within the next five years. The most effective way to address these capital and operational funding requirements is through a voter approved bond for major capital projects. This approach would allow the District to borrow funds for major capital expenditures with a separate tax levy to fund the debt service (payment on borrowed funds). This would reduce the demand on current revenue for capital expenditures and preserve the general levy to meet the expense of ongoing operational requirements. The District anticipates placing a bond measure before the voters in the fall of 2017. Additional detail is provided in the Long Term Financial Plan section of the District’s complete 2017 Adopted District Budget.
Chief Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, FIFireE, CFO