The regular meeting of the South Blanco Emergency Services District #2 was held on September 16, 2013. As promised at August’s meeting, the ESD’s attorney Ken Campbell attended this meeting to answers questions and clarify items on the contracts.
The main question raised concerned the difference between “our money”, money earned from benefits and donations, and “your money”, money raised from taxes and distributed to the EMS and VFD by the ESD, and how that money can be spent with or without the ESD’s permission. After some back and forth, the bottom line from Campbell was that all real property and monies are owned by the ESD and that when buying real property, purchases must be approved by the ESD. ESD Board President Ann Hall and the other ESD Board members have acknowledged that the EMS and VFD both “know better” than the ESD what real property needs to be purchased, but all purchases need to be approved by the Board in order to ensure proper spending of the taxpayer’s money. It was also noted by Campbell that in the case of a dissolvement of the EMS or VFD or a “divorce”, non-renewal of a contract, all real items and monies are ESD property.
The only difference between “our money” and “your money” as it states in the current contracts, is that they must be accounted for separately in the treasurers reports. Ken Campbell stated that this distinction could be removed from the contracts in the future if the EMS and VFD preferred. He explained that the separate distinction was more of a “psychological” issue for some groups, but that Blanco’s departments seemed to be “headed in that direction [of no distinction between monies]”.
After a few edits amicably agreed on by all parties, both the EMS and VFD contracts were approved. The final versions were to be distributed to the EMS and VFD for signing sometime later in September, as the new contracts are slated to begin October 1st.
Final versions of the EMS and VFD budgets were presented to the Board for approval. Both were approved after a short discussion.
Two special meetings were advertised for and held for citizens to come and speak about the ESD’s intent to raise the tax rate to 10 cents per $100 valuation. EMS Director Mike West asked Ann Hall how many people showed up to the meetings, she replied “none.” With no objections the Board signed the resolution to raise the tax rate. This will be an effective raise of 18.2 percent from last years rate. The 10 cent rate is currently the highest tax rate an ESD can set.
The VFD had requested that an item of New Business, Fees for Burn Ban Violations/ uncontrolled burns, be added to the agenda for September’s meeting. Ann Hall began the discussion by reading Section 775 Texas Health and Safety code: Fees for Providing Services. A district or a person authorized by contract on the district's behalf may charge a reasonable fee for Emergency Services performed for or on behalf of a person or entity including a fee for responding for a false alarm or for a fire code inspection.
“I think this gives us the right, as a district, to charge, or someone we contracted with the right [to charge for responding to a burn ban violation or uncontrolled burn. What are you wanting to charge?” Hall asked. The initial thought brought to the table by Harvey Lindeman was that if a person is issued a ticket for a burn violation, that the VFD would like to issue their own fee as well, based on their standard rate for responding. Ann Hall replied that “[By my understanding] you don’t have to have a ticket issued. If there is a burn ban, and you put [an uncontrolled fire] out, you can charge them.” Mary Ann Millard raised a concern over how much would be charged, if it would be a flat rate or scaled per the size of the burn. The VFD agreed to bring a written version of their plan for a fee scale to the next regular meeting.
Updates from each department ended the meeting. The VFD reported 15 total calls last month, with an average 10 minute response time. The EMS reported 62 calls last month with a 5.28 average response time and transportation of 29 patients. Mike West mentioned a higher than usual amount of falls last month, 11, but no other abnormal activity.