Thursday, September 9, 2010

 

 

 

No more county funding for VFDs
Mabank and Kemp firefighters lose $12,500 in funding from Kaufman County
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

KAUFMAN COUNTY–Both Kemp and Mabank fire departments are facing a shortfall in funding this year.
Kaufman County judge Wayne Gent sent out letters recently to all the fire departments in the county informing them of that “the County had to cut all donations to the Volunteer Fire Departments.”
County commissioners are having to cut about $5 million from the proposed budget in order to avoid a raise in the tax rate, Gent wrote.
“The budget cuts touched all departments,” he added.
“In order to balance the budget, the County had to cut all donations to the Volunteer Fire Departments,” he wrote.
The county has $316 million less in taxable property than last year, mostly due to the lag in manufactured goods and inventories produced by large manufacturers in the county.
This situation is reflective of the national slowdown in the economy seen since the fourth quarter of last year.
Both Kemp and Mabank have received county funding totaling $12,500 each.
Last year, fire departments faced last-minute cuts, but their protest caused commissioners to restore partial funding. The Sheriff’s Department made up the rest.
Gent stated in his letter this year, that the intent was to advise the fire departments earlier, so they can meet with their Emergency Service District boards about holding elections in November to increase the ESD tax rate.
The state has approved a tax rate of up to 10 cents on $100 property value for ESD held tax rate elections, he stated.
However, Kemp fire chief Brian Beavers said mid-August doesn’t give enough time to set an election.
“We’re coming up from behind again,” he said.
“They didn’t communicate with any of the fire departments, nor with the chiefs association,” he said.
“We don’t want to take away any services, especially not First Responder service. And I won’t decrease the amount of insurance we have on our firefighters,” he said.
He expects a meeting with his Emergency Service District board Sept. 13, will develop a plan to get them through this year.
“We’ve been really good at managing our money. We’ll see what we are able to do,” he said.
Mabank fire chief Ricky Myrick said he expected some cutbacks on county funding, but not a complete pullout.
“The citizens are going to suffer. We’ll have to cut back and not purchase any new equipment, such as hoses, nozzles, air packs,” he said.
The department will rely more on fund-raisers, like the ice cream social held Aug. 28, he said.
“The county judge’s office didn’t see any cutbacks; in fact, its budget increased – same as last year,” he added.
Last year, the judge’s office got a $1,000 increase over 2008-09 to $255,000. This year, that funding amount is $267,000.
Kaufman County Chiefs Association president Ronnie Davis of the Kaufman Fire Department told The Monitor he was in shock to learn of the cutoff.

Council tries to stop mayor
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

SEVEN POINTS–In response to a petition to remove Seven Points mayor John “Joe” Dobbs from office, an order to appear and show cause has been issued by the 173rd District Court of Henderson County.
The order directs Dobbs to appear in court at 9 a.m. Monday, Sept. 27, to present his argument against the cause.
The order is in response to a request for a temporary injunction filed by councilman Jeremy D. “Bubba” Powell to prevent Dobbs from acting upon a list of items he deems for the “preservation of property and the protection of those involved and the safety of the city of Seven Points.”
Powell filed the petition for removal and the request for an injunction “Pro se,” that is, acting as his own attorney.
District Court Judge Dan Moore listed “bitterly opposed factions of citizens in Seven Points” and “extensive media coverage” as reasons to request a visiting judge hear the case.
After posting notice of a council meeting, Laywell, Powell and councilwoman Cheryl Jones met in the foyer of the city hall at 7:30 a.m. Aug. 30, for the purpose of removing the mayor from office.
The three removed Dobbs by unanimous vote, but the word is still out on the legitimacy of the act.
While Laywell had posted notice of the meeting 72 hours before, someone had removed it over the weekend.
The legalities of the meeting is one of the points the courts will decide.
After the meeting, Powell filed the petition for removal and a temporary injunction against Dobbs at the county courthouse.
At presstime, Dobbs said he had not seen nor been served with the notice to appear.

Utility awards Tolosa tank bid
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

TOOL–The West Cedar Creek Municipal Utility District board reviewed bids for the construction of a 500,000 gallon tank and awarded the job to the lowest bidder.
The action was part of the board regular meeting Aug. 23.
Dowtech Specialty Contractors out of Dallas under bid the next lowest bidder by $13,400. MUDhonors.jpg (168251 bytes)
Dowtech’s total bid was $287,600. Consulting engineering firm Espey Consultants had estimated the work at $361,000. Dowtech’s bid saves the district about $73,400.

Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
West Cedar Creek Municipal Utility District chairman Clifton Smith presents a certificate of appreciaiton to Wanda Sanders for her 25 years of service with the district. "We couldn't have done it without you," general manager Tony Ciardo said.


“All their credentials checked out,” engineer Kenneth Tillman. “People who have hired them once have gone with them a second time, so they must not have messed up too badly.”
“I recommend you accept Dowtech’s bid,” Tillman said.
General manager Tony Ciardo told the board that he would like to add another item for an additional cost.
“I think it will work out better if we also have the contractor hook up the tank,” Ciardo said.
The plans call for getting the new tank on line before taking the existing one off-line for refurbishing, he said.
A start date for the project was not identified.
In other business, board members:
• heard the painting of the Seven Points water tower is on hold. “We are waiting for Sherwin Williams to get back to us on specs and costs,” Ciardo said. The tank will be painted white and include a clear top coat. “White wears really well,” Ciardo said.
• heard Espey Consultants is still working with staff to collect needed information for the rate study. “There’s a lot of information to collect,” Ciardo said.
• reviewed correspondence, which included the first check from the Texas Department of Transportation, for partial reimbursement on the costs to move utility lines in connection to the drainage and widening project along State Highway 334. WCCMUD is expecting $125,000 in reimbursements. The check totaled $31,800.
Another check for $50 came from the Federal Communication Commission for monthly parking at the district. “They’re not allowed to park federal vehicles at their home,” Ciardo explained of a federal worker in the area doing an emergency services study.
• recognized Wanda Sanders for her 25 years of service with the district. The board presented her with a citation and a check for $2,500. Friends, family and co-workers then enjoyed an Italian buffet following the meeting.


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