DANVILLE — Aldermen will meet at 8 this morning in another special budget study session.
City council members were again discussing the proposed city budget for fiscal year 2014-2015. Discussions are still largely centered around the fire department. Out of possible scenarios to continue funding a fire department, Mayor Scott Eisenhauer is not advocating cutting 10 firefighters as one scenario had laid out.
Eisenhauer now is recommending to aldermen the city go back to fire and police chief positions and have a monthly fire safety fee of $6.50 as a base that increases $3 more for every 5,000 square feet of roof top with a $35 cap. This offsets a $1 million budget deficit and doesn’t eliminate any firefighter positions for next year.
The fee would begin May 1, with council approval, for businesses and residents to see the fee placed on garbage and sewer bills. The city must meet some deadlines, however, to meet the May billing cycle.
In addition to implementation of a tiered fire safety fee, Eisenhauer also is recommending a sustainability analysis of the fire division to be completed no later than Dec. 31, 2014. He said a committee would be appointed to discuss statistical data, with assistance from the University of Illinois, to impartially and not emotionally determine how the fire department should look in the future.
“I’ve made it very clear that I’m not sure the number (of firefighters) we have today is an appropriate number,” Eisenhauer said.
A 2012 National Fire Protection Association report says the average number of firefighters per 1,000 people for a full-time fire department in the Midwest region was 1.03, Eisenhauer said. Based on that average, Danville should have 34 firefighters.
“I think our number needs to be higher than that,” Eisenhauer said.
City employees disagree on what the number should be. That’s why Eisenhauer wants the analysis to look at the department’s long-term sustainability.