Financials topic of discussion at fire board meeting

Johnson County Fire District No. 1 Chief Dennis Meyers said everything seems in order when it comes to the fire district’s current financial report.

Meyers told board members at the March 14 meeting that money had been transferred to the accounts requested at the February board meeting.

“We should be running about 83.4 (percent),” he said. “It is running pretty close to that.”

Meyers said overtime numbers were off a little bit.

“So one step ahead and five steps backwards,” he said.

Meyers said the department would be fully staffed by the end of the month. He said the department had been dealing with three injured employees – with two hurt on the job and a third employee who had a personal injury.

Ron Conus, board treasurer, said he looked at the budget a little differently.

“So we should be 16.7 percent,” he said. “As long as revenues are above that I am happy. If spending goes below that I am happy. But that is not the case. Our spending is running about 17.3 percent.”

Conus said he hoped much of that was attributed to annual payments, and where they fall on the calendar, is overstating what their expenses will be for the year.

“This year we are running about $62,000 over that 16.7 percent, whereas last year at this time we were running $286,000 lower than that,” he said. “It seems to be a difference from last year. Keep a look out and make sure we hit targets.”

Meyers said that was exactly what they were going to do.

Conus said $50,000 had been added to transfer to another line item, so it appeared they were overspending.

Meyers said they were going to work on realigning those items.

Chief Meyers Report Meyers said last week he had attended a hearing on Senate House Bill 2323.

The House bill addresses detachments on unincorporated properties that cities annex.

“We haven’t had one of those in a long time,” he said.

Meyers said the City of Olathe is pushing for the bill, but there were some concerns over portions of it.

“One was after one year if there was nothing negotiated between the fire district and the city, it automatically goes to the city no matter what,” he said. “So there really was no tie there to make the city try to negotiate with us.”

Meyers said the other part of the bill the district had concerns about was a statement regarding properties.

“We felt the way it was worded was it included fire stations and fire trucks and equipment, not just the actual properties that are in there,” he said. “There was (also) a problem with the date they wanted to do it. It was (out of) sync as to when our taxes would be. The whole idea of negotiations is for us to be able to look at our budget, see if we can absorb that loss of revenue… that used to be within our taxing authority.”

Gregoryck asked if they knew what the estimated revenue losses would be so they understood how they needed to pivot.

Meyers said the majority had been farmland, which doesn’t have much revenue. However, in sections where housing subdivisions are located, they will lose revenue. He added that the City of Olathe is supposed to give notification if they are annexing and haven’t done so.

“For some reason, Olathe is really fast-tracking this,” he said. “The original House bill was in the house on one day and the next day the House committee approved it.”

Gregoryck asked Meyers which areas Olathe officials were pushing. Meyers said it was areas in Spring Hill.

“Personally I think they will head more toward the battery plant – the DeSoto area, and pick up whatever they can,” he said.

Other items affecting the department’s bottom line were recent accidents involving department trucks. During a recent ice storm, a truck hit the side of a patrol car at a scene on Gardner Road. The other involved a truck clipping the top of the fire station door.

“It has been a long time since we have had any accidents with any of the trucks, and boom, we had those right away,” he said. “I am very shocked that morning (of the ice storm) we didn’t have more accidents with the trucks. We were working several rollovers at the same time. The guys did a really great job of taking care of everything.”

Meyers said they had a recent meeting with Columbia Capital Management about their investments. He said they had discussions within the last few months about how they could get investment of returns on their idle monies.

“We also thought it would be a good idea to contact Central Bank since that is our normal bank,” Meyers said. “There has been a big shift with banking with T-bills that are protected. We can get an array of 4.8 (percent) on those for six months if we invest in those. There are still a lot of questions with those that we need to get answered.”

Meyers said it appeared they were only getting .02 percent investment on their money.

“And for us to jump that up to 4.8 percent on some of those items, I think that is a move we need to make,” he said.

Meyers said he believes the local bank offers the best program to meet their needs.

“We have over $1 million we can invest at no risk,” he said.

Board member Keith Johnson asked about regular savings.

Meyers said they could establish an account, but they were currently transferring money every two weeks to cover everything.

“Surely we can make more than .02 percent,” Johnson said.

Meyers said it could become an investment account, instead of a contingency account, which could generate quite a bit of interest.

“I think you’ve got the board’s support,” Gregoryck said. “I think we would want to lean on the auditor and reach out to the county to make sure so we don’t create a mess we don’t have now, and then come back to the board with your findings.”

Conus said he would like to see them invest more than $1 million.

Meyers said their money is secure despite the recent bank collapses in California.

Meyers ended his report by telling the board he had a meeting with the county about the department’s property appraisal values for 2024, which could see a possible 12-percent to 13- percent increase. Other Business

The board adopted the Code of Ethics for Johnson County public officials. They also agreed to move monthly meetings to 7 p.m.

The board also spent 20 minutes in closed session. No action was taken once the meeting was reopened to the public.