Barrington looking to fire department for savings

While there were no significant changes to services in the balanced 2012 budget Barrington trustees approved Monday, that could change.

Despite taking pride in a budget trustees already are describing as conservative, village officials have pledged to examine the fire department this year for even greater cost savings.

Though several village departments have experienced layoffs and staff reductions through attrition during the past few years, the fire department hasn’t been among them, Village Manager Jeff Lawler said.

The search for greater efficiency in the coming year will focus on help from technology improvements, such as residential sprinklers and fewer false alarms, as well as building on mutual aid agreements that already are so important to local fire services, he added.

Much of the area around the village is served by the geographically larger Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District. Though a separate taxing body with a different jurisdiction, the district actually contracts its service from the Barrington Fire Department and pays the village for the increased personnel and equipment needed to serve the larger area.

The quest for greater efficiency in costs and equipment deployment will rely heavily on the fact that the majority of fire department calls are medical, and that all structure fires in the region are fought using the mutual aid from several departments anyway, Lawler said.

Though the newly approved 2012 budget makes no reference to any such changes, the budget doesn’t set current practices in stone for an entire year, Lawler added.

The budget’s general fund anticipates $15.8 million in revenues and $15.5 million in costs — leaving a surplus of $277,335, of which $250,000 is expected to be transferred to the capital improvement fund for street maintenance.

The budget would leave enough of a balance in the general fund to operate for 4½ months — even if all revenue sources dried up.

Officials say their greatest budgetary concern remains pension liabilities — an area of state policy in which Barrington has become a leading advocate for reform.

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