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Section A: General News


Election nears for funding of Stockdale-area EMS


Election nears for funding of Stockdale-area EMS
Stockdale Emergency Medical Services Director David Rice answers questions about a proposed emergency services district during a town hall meeting held Sept. 19 in the Stockdale Community Hall. See wilsoncountynews.com for video of Wilson County Pct. 4 Commissioner Larry Wiley outlining the need for this in the Stockdale area.


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Wilson County News
September 26, 2012
3,326 views
6 comments

STOCKDALE -- “If you live here long enough, you are gonna need an ambulance,” said Wilson County Pct. 4 Commissioner Larry Wiley, during a Sept. 19 town hall meeting. “... You may not need it now. You are gonna need it then and it’s not a large amount when you consider what it can do for you today.”

This plea from one of four speakers may have summed up the need for the creation of an emergency services district (ESD) in the southeastern part of Wilson County. Wiley addressed approximately 30 people attending a town hall meeting to discuss the proposed creation of Wilson County ESD No. 3 for ambulance services for the Stockdale area.

Wiley was joined by Stockdale Assistant Fire Chief/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Director David Rice, Stockdale Fire Chief Edwin Baker, and Stockdale City Manager Banks Akin. All spoke of the urgent need for funding and the lack of volunteers that contributed to the Stockdale EMS ceasing operations for 20 days last October. All are concerned it could happen again.

Rice provided a PowerPoint presentation about the Stockdale EMS. Last year, 450 calls were received. The basic service with a life-support capability operation comprises two ambulances, 10 certified personnel, and five active members.

The number of volunteers has dwindled since the creation of the EMS in 1974. L.H. West said 60 volunteers started the organization, and the volunteers only had to work one shift a month. With the increased population in the South Texas area due to the Eagle Ford shale activity, Wiley wondered how many volunteers the Stockdale EMS has to respond to the increased need.

“Where will we be in 20 to 40 years?” Wiley pondered.

Proposed district

The proposed district consists of approximately 350 square miles and covers the Stockdale EMS service area, including Stockdale, Sutherland Springs, Kosciusko, Union Valley, Pandora, Denhawken, and Longhorn.

If the proposed district is approved, the ESD would levy an ad valorem tax rate from a minimum of 3 cents to a maximum of 10 cents. If an average house in the ESD has an appraised value of $124,000, the taxpayer will be billed $124 a year, or $10.33 per month, using the maximum rate allowed.

Last year, the Stockdale City Council opened bids for a private provider to service the 350-square-mile area. The lowest bid was $350,000, or $1,000 per square mile. This included emergency medical services personnel to staff the EMS station 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year.

The Stockdale EMS is currently running on a $527-per-square-mile budget, which does not allow it to upgrade operations to better provide medical services to the public. See “Stockdale EMS finances.”

If the proposed new ESD is formed, the Wilson County Commissioners will appoint five members to the ESD board. One of the responsibilities of this board is the selection of an ambulance provider to service the district.

Problems identified

Funding of the operation is one of two issues faced by the Stockdale EMS; the second is the lack of volunteers.

The lack of funding is due in part to the large number of Medicaid/Medicare recipients in the area, the uninsured, and the underinsured served. Underinsured means the person has commercial insurance, but there is a ceiling to the amount the insurance will pay on a claim.

Rice said, “Every other call [the Stockdale EMS answers] does not have insurance.”

In 2011, of the $351,000 billed by the EMS for services rendered, only $127,000 was received, due to insurance claim adjustments and the problems identified above.

Rice said when the city and county approached the area hospitals for assistance, Connally Memorial Medical Center in Floresville offered reimbursement in supplies to the EMS, while Guadalupe Regional Medical Center in Seguin cannot assist, because it is located in a different county. Up to 75 percent of the Stockdale EMS patients request transportation to Guadalupe Regional Medical Center. If AirLife is called for transport, the cost ranges from $15,000 to $20,000.

On the ballot

Baker has addressed the need for funding for Stockdale EMS for the past 10 to 12 years. He approached Texas Reps. Judith Zaffirini and the late Edmund Kuempel to explore funding options. They said, “Form an emergency service district,” he said. With the state spending cuts, funding for the local EMS is being decreased, as well.

Unlike the previous election held last May, the proposed district is for emergency medical services only, not fire coverage.

A separate ballot will be used during the Nov. 6 general elections for the ESD voting, with one ballot for those residing in the Stockdale city limits and its extraterritorial jurisdiction and another for the area serviced by the Stockdale EMS coverage area.

Wiley said the creation of the ESD will not solve all the problems and added, “It will give the opportunity to make the EMS better.”

Two more town hall meetings are set for Thursday, Oct. 4, at 10:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. in the Stockdale Community Building (City Hall) located at 700 W. Main St. in Stockdale.

For more information or to volunteer, contact Rice at 830-996-3087.

Stockdale EMS finances

Stockdale Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Director David Rice offered a financial overview from the Stockdale EMS and explained why there is a need for an emergency services district (ESD).

Annual income received by the EMS:
•Wilson County, $25,000 cash
•City of Stockdale, $30,000
•Donations, $500
•Grants, $2,000
•2011 billing, $127,000. Of the $351,000 billed, less than 50 percent was collected.

Stockdale EMS’ $155,000 annual expenses include:
•Billing, $9,000
•Contractor expense, $75,000 (Volunteers receive a $50 stipend per 12-hour shift)
•License, $1,000
•Medical supplies, $22,000
•Vehicle, $28,000

A sum of $29,500 remains for improvements.

Rice said the EMS needs the following items, which it cannot afford, due to limited funds:
•Two stretchers, $15,000 each
•Two cardiac monitors, $30,000 each
•Ambulance, $110,000
•Two computer tablets, $2,000 each.

Volunteers and donations are welcome. Call Rice at 830-996-3087.

 

Your Opinions and Comments

 
Its Me  
Over Here  
October 3, 2012 9:16am
 
A small tax here a small tax there...... The FACT is the government is grabbing at my paycheck before my wife even has a chance. NO to the Stockdale ESD! I have been speaking with as many people as possible in the Stockdale area ... More ›

 
Facts only  
Stockdale  
October 2, 2012 7:59pm
 
I agree a county wide ESD would be the way to go however that's not the case, and appears its not going to happen that way. I have lived in Stockdale since the 90's, there is a lot of small town talk that goes on that is not ... More ›

 
Its Me  
Over Here  
October 2, 2012 6:48pm
 
High water your right on the money! A county wide EMS and fire instead of all the little chiefs playing with our tax dollars and bickering among each other. Great idea as long as Edwin Baker stays away from it and is not n charge.

 
highwater  
Stockdale  
September 28, 2012 11:50am
 
The better solution is a county-wide district. This issue continues to spawn controversy and scattered un-coordinated districts across the county. I am not confident that my tax dollars will be well spent in the proposed district. Please ... More ›

 
Its Me  
Over Here  
September 27, 2012 11:24am
 
Wiley you and your brother in law Quinney are a joke! Vote AGAINST this people! We are taxed to the gills already. No to the ESD!

 
Webmaster  
Floresville  
September 27, 2012 10:36am
 
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