The plan, proposed by Chief Troy Maney, would pay an extra amount per month depending on the level of certification achieved.
The fire board approved sending the plan to the Commission, asking for its referral to the finance committee.
At the time, Maney said the idea was to protect the county’s investment in the training of personnel with the hopes of keeping “a lot of good experience in the building.”
Maney’s concern stemmed from the imminent hiring by Wacker of safety personnel to staff its own department — a situation that could take directly from Bradley County or open up better paying positions in other area departments.
The maximum a firefighter could gain under the plan would be $4,200 per year; however, at the current levels an extra immediate cost would be $48,782 which Maney said had been returned to the county fund balance because of “some tight spending we tried to do.”
During Wednesday’s meeting, County Mayor D. Gary Davis warned implementing the plan would cause a drain on the department’s cash flow which would cause the county to borrow more in tax anticipation loans and bring the department’s fund balance below the 10 percent level the Commission has requested.
“What the fund balance is at the end of the year is one thing,” said committee chairman Ed Elkins. “The other side of the coin is you have to have cash flow because the fire department is strictly supported by any contributions that come in or the taxes. Everybody knows our taxes do not come in spread out evenly over the year.”
He said there is always a cash flow crunch within the second quarter of a budget.
Elkins explained the ending fund balance in July was $481,000, but because of no revenue coming in from taxes that amount dwindles until at the end of September there is $3,100.
“At the end of October, that would go negative — to minus $360,000,” Elkins said. “The actual November figure is $445,000.”
He said many pay their taxes by the end of December in order to take advantage of income tax deductions.
The numbers Elkins recited, as provided by the county finance director, did not reflect the addition of the incentive program.
Davis further explained the difficulty of the timeline.
“If you look at the cash flow, we’re going to be borrowing money in September to meet payroll,” Davis said. “That’s borrowing from within (the county budget).”
He said a long-range plan, currently in the draft stage, shows the fund balance dropping again next year.
“This stuff about saving money from one year to another is confusing everybody, because everybody understands when you have a dollar left on June 30, that becomes part of next year’s budget,” Davis said.
“There’s no miraculous dollar out there to grab. If there was, it’s one-time money. You don’t spend that dollar for a salary.”
He said cash flow is a problem and will become a bigger problem.
“You need to grow the fund balance, not shrink it,” Davis said. “Any dollar you spend more than the budget is shrinking the fund balance.”
The committee expressed the support of doing something, but because the newest budget has already taken effect, it voted to recommend to the Commission any decision be delayed until after new commissioners take office on Sept. 1.