By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Layoffs, voluntary demotions and wage cuts will help make up a budget shortfall at Marion County Fire District No. 1, its leaders and union announced last week.

All employees, including administration, will take a 2.5 percent pay cut and others have agreed to demotions and pay freezes. The total savings are expected to reach $260,000.

Two administrative staffers face layoffs, and two tenured employees opted to retire. In addition, three captains will take demotions to lieutenant, 14 firefighters/engineers will become firefighters, and a paramedic position will be created.

The district is seeking a 29-cent levy in the May election; a 13-cent increase from its current levy. MCFD’s board sought a levy increase just a few months after voting not to seek a renewal at all. Without any levy funds, the fire district would face a $1 million shortfall, according to a statement from the district.

Randy Franke, board president, said in the statement that limited increases in tax revenues, rising health insurance costs, decreasing ambulance services and legal costs connected to the Clear Lake election and subsequent lawsuits all contributed to the anticipated shortfall. The district has spent about $270,000 on legal fees during the current fiscal year.

Both Franke and James Mulhern, vice president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2557, are backing the levy increase.