Conroe, July 15 – Montgomery County Fire Marshal Jimmy Williams did excellent work preparing and submitting the proposed Fiscal Year 2018 Budget for his Department. Other County Departments should follow his example.
In response to the call by Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack and Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark for County Departments to submit budget requests for Fiscal Year 2018 that contained 5% spending reductions, many departments either ignored the requests altogether, submitted budgets that were substantially higher than 95% of their current annual budgets, or only reduced so-called “operating expenses,” such as supplies, while leaving salaries and employee benefits alone.
Not Fire Marshal Jimmy Williams.
Williams submitted a requested budget for FY 2018 of $1,526,160, which represents a six percent (6%) decrease from the Fire Marshal Department’s of $1,630,601 for FY 2017. The reduction almost brings the Fire Marshal’s proposed budget to the 2015 expenditure level of $1,513,386.
Williams explained to the Commissioners Court in his cover letter to them with his proposed budget that he achieved the proposed Department savings by:
- postponing the purchase of two fleet vehicles for a cost savings of $104,000. Williams noted “By extending the replacement cycle by one year, we can reduce our 2018 FY budget request by over $100,000 and meet the court’s request to identify potential cost savings.”
- increasing vehicle maintenance to offset additional costs. Williams explained, “Extending the replacement cycle will increase maintenance costs as our fleet ages. As we have transitioned from a vehicle stipend to county owner vehicles for our Peace Officers, we have attempted to estimate maintenance costs and we have also deferred maintenance on larger vehicles in our fleet. We would request that $9,000 of the funds saved by deferring vehicle purchases be added to our Investigations Division vehicle maintenance line item.”
Williams concluded his Departmental budget request with the following statement:
“…this budget request confirms our commitment to fiscal responsibility, while maintaining vital Law Enforcement and Public Safety services for the citizens of Montgomery County.”
The Fire Marshal noted that the Inspection Division of the Fire Marshal Department employs five full time licensed Peace Officers who are also trained and certified as Fire Inspectors and Arson Investigators, since they enforce the County’s Fire Code as well as other criminal laws. Several of the Department’s peace officers are trained as Explosive Ordinance Disposal Technicians so that the Fire Marshal’s Office can operate the County’s Bomb Squad out of the Investigations Division of the Office.
Williams and his team have shown great leadership as fire inspectors, Code compliance enforcers, and peace officers. He showed his commitment to the interests of the taxpayers by a serious effort to reducing overall spending of the Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s Office.