There's been some resolution today on an ongoing debate in Grimes County over who's responsible for paying for fire service. The Navasota Fire Department found the city was paying for $80,000 in fire services outside the city limits. And that began raising questions with Navasota taxpayers.
Whether you live inside the city limits of Navasota or inside the rural Grimes County line, the Navasota Fire Department is always there to respond in the event of any emergency -- even when they're not getting paid to do so.
“I like to say we're the necessary evil; we're a depart that doesn't bring in revenue,” explained Navasota Fire Chief Jason Katkoski. “But we're like an insurance police; you have to pay for something that you may or may not use.”
Those services come with a cost. Last year the Navasota Fire Department ran 700 calls; 160 or almost a quarter of those calls were located out in the county. Each year the county reimburses the city with a payment of roughly $45,000. That payment is only two thirds of the actual cost which leaves the city $81,000 short. After going over their annual budget for the 2012/2013 fiscal year, the city brought their concerns and the difference in cost to the county in hopes to create a fair, inter-local agreement.
“I hate to say it caught them off guard but it was a number they weren't expecting it,” said Katkoski. “They have been paying the departments a number for so many years, and this is certainly a little bit more than what they were expecting.”
On May 1st the county came back with a final offer of $84,482.
Jason Katkoski | The 84,000 is a negotiated amount and it does not quite meet what we're expending out in the county.
“It does not quite meet what we’re expending out into the county, it’s certainly something that we’ll continue working on,” said Katkoski.
Although the final resolution doesn’t add up to the full cost, city leaders along with the fire department say it's a step in the right direction.
“It’s a little bothersome that we don't have the full amount, but we understand they were in the middle of their budget,” said Navasota City Manager Brad Stafford. “Hopefully next year when we have time to work on the full agreement we can get this done prior to the adoption of their budget.”
That offer was accepted for the current fiscal year with the understanding that the $84,482 payment would be made within 30 days of the May 1 acceptance.