Emergency Services Funding for Volunteer Fire Departments - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Emergency Services Funding for Volunteer Fire Departments

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV)- The Smith County Emergency Services District #2 is in the midst of adopting a new budget. If they chose to lower the property tax rate, then they'll be collecting less money from Smith County citizens.

While that may sound like a good thing to some, others are concerned that'll mean less funding and smaller crews for Smith County Volunteer Fire Departments.
A possibility that those living in more rural parts of the county find very unsettling.

"I understand budgets are tight. There's all sorts of cuts needs to be made and should be made but I'm not sure on the priority of this one because fire response sounds like something that should be at the top of the list to keep," said Stacy Jarvis who lives in  Bullard.

Stacy said those taxes that go toward funding these departments are worth it because they give her peace of mind.

"It's just somebody there to help and I'd be uncomfortable knowing there's nobody home," she said.

"I just think our community ..what has happened out here.. the wrecks, again the fires that we've had and just injury and stuff like that, that they were there and better able to get there quicker," said Karen Kipp who lives in Noonday.

Funding from the Emergency Services District helps pay for equipment, insurance, training and maintaining a day crew.

The stations we spoke to said since the ESD budget is still a work in progress there's no call for alarm right now.

But, they said keeping a day crew is vital.

"Having a day crew there, you have people ready to go. You don't have to wait for people to show up to the station and go, we're ready to go just like the city of Tyler runs," said Kevin Landoff from Noonday's Volunteer Fire Department.

The ESD said departments shouldn't have to make cuts. They said all they're trying to do is create a budget that a lots what is needed to operate, instead of a budget with a surplus.

"They can always come back if they were slighted and request a budget supplement with a reason, like they've been running more calls," the ESD Board President Rex Coulter said.

A common occurrence in times like these... when some departments said they've run more calls this year than they did in all of 2010.

The Smith County Emergency Services District is scheduled to have another budget meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Emergency Operations Center in Tyler. Citizens wishing to voice their opinions are encouraged to attend.

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