Palo Pinto Commissioners' Dig Deep

After opening the floor to public comments on this year’s proposed budget, several EMS volunteers spoke to plead their case for not losing the $5,000 that was part of the proposed budget cuts.  Along with losing the $5,000, the commissioners’ had changed their insurance policy to cover only liability for any vehicle that was five years old or older.  This would affect both Gordon and Strawn as well as other rural EMS departments.

Foster Simmons with West Lake EMS which serves the west side of Possum Kingdom and Susanne Wright from Tri-City EMS which covers Gordon, Mingus and Strawn, both gave figures which showed the financial hardship this was going to create for their departments.   The estimates for replacement value insurance on their ambulances were as high as $5,300 per vehicle.   Taking into account they were losing the $5,000, the full coverage they did have, and now would have to pay for their own insurance, the cut into the EMS budgets was going to create a hole they would have a hard time filling.   Tri City’s board member, Roy Charles and Aubrey Worsham, volunteer with EMS services of Possum Kingdom East, also spoke about the benefit of having these ambulance services and the need for more funding.

The insurance on vehicles that the county has been covering doesn’t allow for replacement value but instead only pays a depreciated value on vehicles totaled.  It wasn’t feasible for the county to pay the high full coverage premiums on vehicles that may only be valued at a few hundred dollars by the insurance company.   The fire departments and EMS departments, however, were eligible to get replacement value insurance through Volunteer Fireman Insurance of Texas.

During the discussion, Commissioner Pierce wanted to note that the rumors he had heard that the commissioners had received raises this year was not true.  In a belt tightening effort, none of the commissioners, county departments, or county employees have received raises.

Commissioner Ray made a motion to reinstate the $5,000 previously cut  for each of the EMS departments.  The motion was approved unanimously.  The insurance would remain at a liability only level for older vehicles.

Also speaking during the public forum was Gordon’s Mayor Lilly Petty.  Mayor Petty asked for funds for the Gordon Community Library and Museum.  She explained that they had to have some financial support from the county in order for the library to be eligible to join the North Texas Regional Library District which would then allow them to apply for grants.    No action was taken by the commissioners.

Adoption of the 2011 budget will be during the September 13, 2010 meeting which will begin at 9:00 a.m.