Valley Grande Fire Dept to forego donation

Published 10:55 pm Monday, March 17, 2014

Editor’s note: This article has been amended from a previous version to state the correct percentage of Valley Grande’s expenses.

The Summerfield Volunteer Fire Department may have an easier time paying bills after Monday’s Valley Grande City Council meeting.

Valley Grande Mayor Wayne Labbe asked the council to consider transferring the Valley Grande Volunteer Fire Department’s usual allotment of $15,000 to Summerfield for payments on a two-year old fire truck. The council approved Labbe’s suggestion unanimously.

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Labbe said he made the suggestion after receiving a recommendation from Valley Grande’s volunteer fire chief Don Carter.

“What’s going on here is the Valley Grande Fire Department said don’t give us our donation, but give it to Summerfield this year to help pay for their new truck,” Labbe said. “Valley Grande is a little over 11 years old and we are still in the throes of upgrading our equipment. For us to keep our rank in our fire department we have to keep it up, not just in one department but all over.”

Valley Grande is covered by three volunteer fire departments — Valley Grande, Potter’s Station and Summerfield. The fire departments operate independently of the city, but receive a total of $41,250 each year from Valley Grande. The three fire departments also receive funding from other sources.

“They have a need in the Summerfield Fire Department and our chief here recognized that need,” Labbe said.

In other news from the meeting:

  • The council received a six-month budget analysis of the city’s finances.

Six months into the 2014 fiscal year  Valley Grande has generated about $364,000 in revenue, which is approximately 60 percent of its budgeted amount.

“We are about 10 percent ahead of where we need to be,” Labbe said. “That’s attributed a lot to Dave’s Market, sales taxes, our new Mexican Restaurant and Dollar General.”

The city’s expenses in six months total about $202,000, about 40 percent of its budgeted amount at the start of the year — $455,000.

  • The council voted to allow Labbe to seek refinancing on an approximately 80-acre, city-owned property that contains Valley Grande’s baseball fields.

Labbe said at the start of May the city would owe approximately $140,000 on the property. He plans to pay $40,000 on the outstanding amount and seek a local bank’s financing for three years.

  • The council also discussed possible plans for next year’s baseball league.

Local pastor Larry Stover, who helps run the league, said participation has grown significantly. Stover said more than 90 children signed up for the 2014 league, 71 signed up in 2013 and about 50 signed up in 2012.

He said interest exceeds available slots, suggested the city add a girls softball league and hire an employee to oversee the league.

“It needs to be job number one and priority number one to get somebody hired to run this program,” Stover said.

The council didn’t take any action on Stover’s suggestion, but Labbe said an evaluation of the league’s future would be forthcoming.