To the Editor,
The City of Red Lodge was budgeting into the six figures for the fire department when the City still operated the ambulance service, which was eventually moved to the Red Lodge Fire District building. The ambulance district was then created which began funding the ambulance service and the City’s only involvement was to maintain the licensing, which it still does. The high budget figure for the Volunteer Fire Department should have shrunk to the five-figure level, $40,000 to $60,000 being the typical normal budget for a community of our size in Montana. A bond issue for fire apparatus would add to this figure, such as the $40,000/yr that was recently paid off. The hours on the pumper that the residents of Red Lodge paid for through the recently retired bond issue have been primarily used for “mutual aid” calls in the County. Fire suppression calls within the City have been few, as usual. There is one City employee in the Red Lodge Volunteer Fire Department at the time. Even if this position was to be maintained, the cost for this operation should not exceed $100,000. The City residents will be, and have been, subsidizing the rural Fire District with cost in the area of $200,000 if the City “contracts” with the Fire District and becomes subject to participation in the expense of that operation.