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Coaldale Council provide feedback on budget considerations

Posted on December 13, 2023 by Sunny South News

By Heather Cameron
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

On December 7, 2023, Town of Coaldale Council gathered for 2024 Budget Deliberations.

Chief Financial Officer and Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Kyle Beauchamp took the floor first and stated that this is a cumulation of the service level discussions, the operating budget, and the capital budget. The intent of the meeting, Beauchamp said, was for Administration to show the cost implications of all the budget items previously discussed and then to get feedback from Council as to whether or not the proposed items get inserted into the budget, amended, or removed. 

Beauchamp said based on the capital budget present to the council, the estimation of our debt limit and the actual debt from 2022 up to 2029 is approximately 55 percent and that would increase up to 70 percent in 2025 further decreasing down to 46 percent in 2029. Debt limit, Beauchamp stated, is calculated at approximately 1.5 times the town’s operating revenues for the year.

Beauchamp then invited Clayton Rutberg, Director of Protection Services, Fire Chief, and Director of Emergency Management for the Town of Coaldale, to come forward and give a presentation about various PPE items that could potentially be added to the budget, items that Council specifically requested further information about. Rutberg used a slide presentation to explain to Council about the different items that were requested. One of the items, Rutberg said, were rescue gloves and they are utilized for extrication or more specific rescue situations where the firefighters require a lot more dexterity. Rutberg explained that the current gloves that the fire service was using cost $85 a pair, but the quality with the cheaper glove is not good and so the Fire Service had to bump up to more of a midline glove to be able to extend their life longer. Rutberg showed a slide outlining different gloves and their prices: the basic structural glove was priced at $100 a pair; the high-end structural glove was priced at $225.80 a pair, and the current product utilized for any situation was priced at $160 a pair.

Another PPE item, Rutberg touched upon, was masks and the Fire Service only has as many MSA G1 SCBA masks as they need for their members right now; if they need extra or gain members from recruiting, those people would be sharing or out of service for the time being. The masks cost $450 each, Rutberg said, and the current need is seven masks, plus 8 spare ones, which would cost a total of $6,750. This, Rutberg said, is the only model that can be used on the system. Wildland Masks, Rutland said, are another need and they would be for when firefighters do not need an SCBA, but still need respiratory protection like in situations including grass fires, other outside fires, investigations, etc. Rutberg explained that the Basic N95 Wildland Mask was $66.39 per pair, the Alternative Mask was $170.00 per mask, while the current product, which was a full-face mask, was $165 per mask. The current need in terms of dollar amount, Rutberg said, was $3,405 for Wildland Masks. 

In terms of Structural Boots, Rutberg said, the department’s current need is $30, 625, as the department has traditionally purchased a higher-end product to ensure quality and comfort because the boots are used in both the structural and wildland ensemble. The current product, Rutberg, said cost $875 per pair and have a maximum lifespan of 10 year, but the mid-range leather boot costs $690 per pair while the higher end product costs $980 per pair while the lower end product costs $250 per pair. 

Station Boots, Rutberg said, are also a need and the selected product cost $250 a pair and the current need is $8,750 worth of them for volunteers to do tasks that don’t require structural boots, things including truck checks, working on the apparatus floor, medical calls, and anytime that the firefighters are doing calls where they need foot protection, as station boots would provide a much better option to reduce some of that wear and tear on the structural boots.

Rutberg than explained the Fire Service’s need for $4,200 worth of coveralls and that the current product that the Fire Service uses is $350 per coverall, also showing Council that the higher end coveralls are $875 per pair while the basic coveralls are $200. 

Finally, Rutberg outlined the need for the Fire Service to have funding for hoods and explained that the department’s desired hood is priced at $185 per hood while the higher end hood is priced at $278 per hood and the basic hood is priced at $75 per hood. The current need for hood, Rutberg said, is $7,400 for hoods.

After Rutberg concluded his presentation Councillor Bill Chapman inquired if all needed clothing and equipment would be CSA approved and Rutberg confirmed that it would be. Councillor Chapman also asked if the requested boots would have to provided to the whole um the whole team or could they just be provided to those who are going to be doing day-to-day work at the Fire Hall. Rutberg responded by saying that the boots wouldn’t need to be supplied to everyone, but there are a lot of times where all of the staff are there for truck checks and similar things. The boots, Rutberg, said would also be a lot more functional for some of the department’s lower acuity calls like medical calls and they would also be useful because then people would not have to share boots. Councillor Chapman then admitted that he was curious to know if going with a mid-range price would be acceptable compared to a basic price range and Rutberg said yes, most of the stuff except the boots and helmets were in that range. 

Council ultimately decided to sit on the presentation for now.

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