2018-01-12 / Local News

Blacksburg VFD seeking additional $100k from town

Ledger Staff Writer

The Blacksburg Volunteer Fire Department has asked for a $100,000 increase in its portion of the town budget to add paid firefighters and make payments on recent equipment upgrades.

The department requested town council consider increasing its budget allocation from its current $61,650 to $161,650 in the town’s proposed 2018 spending plan.

The request was made during a presentation by fire department officials to town council Tuesday.

Blacksburg has a $3.26 million budget and will end its fiscal year March 31. Council has started work on its 2018 budget, which takes effect April 1.

Much of the $100,000 funding increase ($60,000) sought by the fire department would go towards payments on a new fire truck purchased by the department last year. A total of $25,000 would be used to add paid drivers during working hours.

Blacksburg Volunteer Fire Department Chief Donovan Ford cited increased maintenance costs, replacement of equipment and aging infrastructure as other reasons for the funding increase.

“Our call volume increases as the city grows,” Ford told council. “Our expenditures continue to increase. Our long-term budget is not stable.”

The Blacksburg Volunteer Fire Department budget figures show the department receives $45,000 from the county. Ford said the department has considered the concept of seeking a special tax district in order to provide more money.

Blacksburg Fire Department officers said the 34-member department responded to 585 calls in 2017, an increase of 4.65 percent over the previous year. The department provides fire suppression, emergency medical and rescue services in Blacksburg and mutual aid response to neighboring counties.

Thermal imaging cameras were recently purchased to assist Blacksburg firefighters with search and rescue operations in burning buildings.

“We are the second-busiest department in the county,” Ford said. “Maintaining a modern state-of-the-art fleet of emergency apparatus is of critical importance to our efforts to constantly improve our services and response to emergencies.”

Council took the fire department’s budget request as information.

Council will hold a workshop Jan. 22 at 6:30 p.m. in the Blacksburg Museum to continue discussions about the proposed new budget.

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