The Red Lodge City Council passed the Interlocal agreement at their May 13 meeting. The agreement between the City and the Red Lodge Rural District #7 will allow for a more efficient use of their powers by enabling them to cooperate with other local government units, including personnel, apparatus and equipment to provide for a higher quality for fire prevention and protection for the public.
Two separate entities coexist under one roof, the City Fire and Rural Fire even though both work together wherever a fire breaks out. Fire Chief Tom Kuntz has said recently the system is “administratively confusing” and does not “provide the level of accountability” that is required.
This process will allow the department to “agree on what do we pay for fire protection and the service level,” he said.
Mayor Ed Williams spoke briefly about the City’s facing a budget deficit for the coming year.
“This year we are facing a budget deficit for the first time in years. We’ve known this and the reason our revenues are not increasing is that not much is being built, so our tax revenues are down, and payroll expense edges up every year by 3 percent. So we have to make hard choices,’ said Williams. The City will have less than $100,000 in discretionary monies available to them.
A Police Mill Levy is in the pipeline and Williams stated that the City would have to go to the public and see what they want for police protection.
A budget meeting will be held May 21.