The district held its annual meeting on Sunday. Leamon was elected vice-chair of the organization during the election portion of the meeting, with Jason Spingle staying on as chair.
Leamon said the report for 2012 and the budget for 2013 were presented to residents in attendance at the meeting.
Under that budget, residents won’t see any increase in the fees they pay to the local service district. Just as it did last year, the fee for 2013 remains at $300 per household.
“We basically have a balanced budget,” said Leamon, adding the expected deficit is just a projected number that’s based on expenditures. He said that number could be affected by things like maintenance for the town’s fire truck.
“So we project to still be OK in the 2013 year,” he said. “Last year our expenditures were down a little bit, so we actually had a slight surplus in revenue from last year.”
One thing affecting Little Rapid’s financial position is the number of residents in arrears on their fees, but Leamon noted the community has been taking steps to recoup those fees. He said about 50 per cent of those outstanding fees have already been collected.
“So that was good to see and we’re working with those residents who are in arrears to come to an arrangement to get up to date on the balance of their arrears.”
Regionalization of fire services
Last year the community was heavily involved in the regionalization of fire services with the nearby Town of Steady Brook.
Leamon said the process started with an agreement on regionalization in 2011, continued through 2012 as a transition year and, on Jan. 1, the first year of regionalized service began.
“It’s a learning curve as you go through this whole process,” said Leamon. “It’s like a merger between two companies. If you look at blending those two accounting systems and those two operating procedures, there’s always little minor issues that you have to negotiate and work through.”
The combined department now consists of 17 active members under the leadership of Chief Ken Maidment. Assisting Maidment as deputy chiefs are Leamon and Jamie Robinson.
Under the new structure, Leamon said Steady Brook, Little Rapids and Humber Village all pay fire-service fees to the new regional fire committee, which is then responsible for approving expenditures for the department. The administrative work is being looked after by the Town of Steady Brook.
“At this point the plan is to still maintain the two fire stations, one in Steady Brook and one in Little Rapids just because the response times and geographic coverage are better with two fire stations,” said Leamon, who noted neither community has a hall big enough to store all the trucks and equipment.
He said firefighter training remains a priority for the department.
“You’re trying to provide a top-quality professional service with a volunteer core.”