By Pilar Martin
BENTLEY – Bentley Mayor Rex Satterhwaite said he was not completely surprised when all 18 members of the Bentley Fire Department resigned.
“I knew eventually it would happen when we started cutting the budget. We told everyone back in January that every department would be scrutinized, that there would be cuts here and there. The result was it didn’t fit into what someone had planned, a department on its own without county involvement,” Satterthwaite said.
The original fire department budget for 2016 was set at $34,500. As of April 14, the fire department had expenditures of $13,733.73. City Council advised the fire department of a cut to its funding at the April 14 meeting. Council member Monique James advised that the fire department would only receive $14,000 for the remainder of the year.
Satterthwaite and the city council are trying to reduce expenses city-wide. City finances took a hit when a developer pulled out of Castle Estates, leaving the city to foot a $1,705,000 bond that has to be paid
A clerical position at the city offices and a public works employee were let go to reduce expenses. City Clerk Lisa Wright now uses flex time when she has to cover meetings after hours.
“If I have a meeting, I come in later in the day, or use trade time, but no overtime,” Wright said.
Bentley already pays Sedgwick County $36,000 a year for fire protection. Satterthwaite tried to put this in perspective, dividing that $36.000 among the 528 residents.
“That amounts to $70 per year for each citizen; that’s pretty high to begin with,” Satterthwaite said.
Add the Bentley Fire Department budget of $34,500.00 to the Sedgwick County tab of $36,000 the total is $70,500 residents have been paying for fire protection.
Satterthwaite and the council want to shift more responsibility to Sedgwick County. Sedgwick County already houses two fire vehicles in Bentley.