David Rice (standing, left) and Wilson County Judge Marvin Quinney explain their reasons Oct. 10 for the proposed creation of an emergency services district to fund ambulance services in eastern Wilson County during a town hall meeting in the Kosciusko Hall.
Wilson County News October 17, 2012 2,097 views 1 comment
KOSCIUSKO -- The borders for the proposed Wilson County Emergency Services District (ESD) No. 3 touch Guadalupe, Gonzales, and Karnes counties. This is according to information presented Oct. 10 by David Rice, director of the Stockdale Emergency Medical Services (EMS), during a town hall meeting in the Kosciusko Hall here.
The proposed area measures approximately 350 square miles -- most of which is unincorporated (see map online with story at wilsoncountynews.com). The district includes Stockdale and its extraterritorial jurisdiction, along with a portion of the city of Nixon and the communities of Denhawken, Kosciusko, Longhorn, Nockenut, Pandora, Sutherland Springs, and Union Valley.
Currently, much of this area is serviced by the Stockdale EMS, with portions serviced by La Vernia EMS and Gonzales County EMS. If an ESD is approved, the Wilson County Commissioners Court would form a five-member board of commissioners to oversee the new political subdivision, which would then select an EMS provider.
“Nothing says that it will be Stockdale EMS that will be the provider if this is to pass,” Rice said. “We have to go out for bids.”
If formed, the ESD would levy an ad valorem tax not to exceed 10 cents per $100 of assessed value. Rice reminded those in attendance that the tax revenue only would be used to fund the district’s ambulance service needs.
Rice said that in 2011, the average value of a residence in the proposed district was $124,000. At the 10-cent tax rate -- which is the maximum allowed by law -- the average taxpayer would contribute $124 per year, $10.33 per month, to the district’s operation. That rate would account for an estimated $350,000 in revenue.
Funding has been one of the leading challenges for Stockdale EMS, which was formed in 1974. Rice said that in 2011, the county contributed $25,000 toward expenses. Another $30,000 -- not all of it in cash -- came from the city of Stockdale. Grants accounted for $2,000, and the remaining $500 came from donations.
Stockdale EMS collected just $127,000 for services rendered in 2011. However, expenses incurred by those who were uninsured, underinsured, or just did not pay ambulance bills accounted for $102,997 in bad debt. Coupled with obligations such as vehicle maintenance and fuel, the volunteer service is hard-pressed to meet its expenses.
Perhaps worse, Rice said earlier that there are just five EMS volunteers who consistently are available to make ambulance calls.
The funding woes and the volunteer shortage led to a 27-day closure of Stockdale EMS last October. This was after an attempt in May to create ESD No. 3 to fund fire and ambulance services failed by just 25 votes.
Wilson County Judge Marvin Quinney, who was among the handful of area residents to attend the meeting, said he understands that some might not want to pay another tax to fund EMS services.
“An ambulance is like insurance,” he said. “If you don’t need it, that’s fine. But if you do need it, then it’s nice to know it’s there.”
ESD No. 3 town hall meetings
•Oct 17, 6:30 p.m. - Sutherland Springs Community Bldg.
•Oct. 25, 6:30 p.m. - Sutherland Springs Community Bldg.
•Oct. 27, 6:30 p.m. - Stockdale Community Bldg.
•Nov. 5, 10:30 a.m. - Stockdale Community Bldg.
•Nov. 5, 6:30 p.m. - Stockdale Community Bldg.