The Anchorage Fire Department is expecting a substantial budget shortfall.Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA – AnchorageDownload AudioFire Chief Dennis LeBlanc told the assembly’s Public Safety Committee today he anticipates AFD will go $650,000 dollars over its projected 2015 budget . That is a variance of 0.7 percent on the Department’s $93 million budget, which many criticized as underfunding certain operations under the administration of Dan Sullivan.One reason for the overruns is positive: AFD bucked expectations and filled several open positions they’d forecasted to stay empty.“It’s a good thing,” said LeBlanc, “it means the bodies are there.”But another share of the cost overruns come from a higher-than-anticipated call volume.“We have responded seven percent more times this year–year to date–than we did last year,” LeBlanc explained. “Last year we did about 31,000 runs.”He attributes the bump in part to Anchorage’s aging population.But he also spent a large chunk of time unpacking the numbers behind the city’s problems with Spice, which exploded this summer.From July 15th through November 17th, 13 percent of the emergency medical calls–873 out of 6,681–have been flagged as spice related. And many of them have necessitated extreme medical interventions, like 32 field intubations.LeBlac says one man has been delivered to area hospitals 21 times for medical emergencies connected to Spice. An ambulance transport costs between $750 and $950, depending on the personnel staffing a particular call.There’s been a drop in Spice related cases the last few days, but LeBlanc attributes it mostly to the cold weather. “It’s alive and well,” he said of Spice during his presentation, shortly after mentioning calls that had gone out earlier in the day.As for the budget, LeBlanc said he’d successfully lobbied the mayor’s office and the Assembly earlier in the week for more money in the year ahead, and anticipates coming in below target for 2016.“Even if it’s a penny,” he laughed. LeBlanc also hinted at savings through more disciplined Department spending.The Assembly is set to discuss the 2016 budget at it’s meeting on Tuesday.