Jared Powell became the first full-time paid fire-emergency services chief for the city of Pea Ridge when he reported to work Monday, Nov. 22. His position and salary were approved by the City Council in the recent approval of the 2022 budget and was partially made affordable by the voters' approval of a one-cent city sales tax.
Mayor Jackie Crabtree announced that Powell was to begin work Monday, Nov. 22. Powell previously worked full time for the Bella Vista Fire Department as well as performing his responsibilities for Pea Ridge.
The announcement Tuesday at the City Council meeting was met by applause from city officials and by members of the department present at the meeting.
At the council Committee of the Whole meeting recently, Powell presented the Fire Department's budget to the council. The biggest change was in equipment and salary, Powell said. The amount budgeted for equipment for the coming year is $140,000, according to the budget handout for the fire department.
This is a $60,000 increase. Powell said he wanted to replace the SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) equipment as well as retire an ambulance.
Firefighter and EMS (Emergency Medical Staff) salaries are budgeted at $723,400, but Powell said he is looking at exploring dropping personnel to four per shift which will drop the budget amount to $590,000.
This will also reduce group insurance rates to $73,600, Powell said. The amount of the new sales tax, Powell wants to ask for is $335,300 from the new sales tax. The fire department is 97.5 self-funded for the last year, Powell said.
Group insurance also went up from $10,300 in 2o21 to $92,000 for the coming year, the handout states. Powell attributes this to personnel signing up for insurance for family members. The amount is based on the employee paying $500 a month for 12 months multiplied by 15 employees.