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“When this district was originally stood up, it was going to be a minimum of two EMT and two firemen,”
Virginia Baldwin said at the Wilson County Emergency Services District 2 (ESD 2) Aug. 21 meeting. “This community is now below what it was originally signed up for.”
Baldwin, speaking during citizens’ comments, was referring to statements made at the Aug. 16 ESD 2 meeting on reducing expenses for the cash-strapped district, which serves north central Wilson County. During the meeting, District 2 Emergency Services’ acting fire chief and EMS director, Alex Lopez, said a reduction to three personnel per each eight-hour shift will prevent District 2 from being able to provide non-emergency transports. (See “ESD 2 struggles with budget for coming fiscal year,” Aug. 23 Wilson County News.)
However, board Vice President Felita Rodriguez said the reduction of personnel on duty had not been decided.
“Currently, the three people per shift has not been set up,” she said.
Lopez made it clear he favored keeping four qualified personnel on each of the three daily shifts, even while looking at different options to cut the district’s expenses.
“A lot is waiting on you guys,” he told the board members. “There is uncertainty on what you wanted.”
Twelve District 2 personnel and three citizens attended the Monday-evening meeting.
Lopez also recommended that, if one of the district’s two stations must be closed, he preferred that Station 2, on U.S. 181 at Cimarron Drive, be kept open rather than Station 1, on F.M. 775.
Lt. Bobby Blankenship presented board members with a map showing “alert addresses” District 2 had responded to over the year and response times for each. Response units from Station 1 were able to reach 58 addresses faster, but units from Station 2 were able to reach 132 addresses faster, according to the study.
“We’re not as worried about distance as the time it takes to get there,” Blankenship said.
Board members made it clear there will be personnel cuts, but agreed that there are many areas where expenses might be cut.
“I know that [payroll] is the biggest [expense], but I personally feel we have only scraped the top of other savings we can make,” Lopez said. “We want to give you all the information we can, so you can make a decision.”
ESD 2 auditor Brenda Treviño reminded board members that they must adopt a budget before Sept. 18.
ESD 2’s next meeting was scheduled for Monday, Aug. 28.
ESD 2 commission members
The Wilson County Emergency Services District 2 board of commissioners includes:
•John Burleson, president
•Felita Rodriguez, vice president
•Rudy Cantu, secretary
•David Nieto, treasurer
•Sherry Heatherly, assistant treasurer.