Smith County Emergency Services District Two Officer Responds to Criticism | Business
Released by Smith County Emergency Services District:
Attached is the 2011-2012 budget for the Smith County Emergency Services District Two. Erroneous rhetoric has been repeated in the media based on comments made by angry firemen. Please notice that the totals for each department are different because some fire departments have no debt service or they receive funding from other sources to subsidize the ESD tax money received.
For example, Whitehouse Fire Department will receive $262,403.73 from the ESD, which appears to be quite a bit lower than other departments; however, the City of Whitehouse opted out of being part of ESD2 and chooses to pay the Whitehouse department $120,000 per year to be spent at the discretion of the fire chief. Chief Ronnie Fite pays himself, two other employees, and the fuel bill from the city's stipend; therefore, no ESD2 money is allocated for personnel or fuel expenses.
After studying previous budgets for the ESD, commissioners learned the tax rate was chosen first and the budget was created based on the preferred tax rate. This method produced approximately $500,000 in excess revenue being collected each year.
The current budget was created based on previous years' spending and known needs for debt service, which resulted in a lower tax rate. The 2010-2011 budget contained $3,679,865 for the fire departments. The 2011-2012 budget contains $3,430,555.
Although the overall budget was decreased, the ESD has in excess of $1.3 million in reserve to be used for necessary (or emergency) expenditures. These funds are available to the rural fire departments, and there is absolutely no danger of running out of tax funds to fight fires.
The majority of the commissioners believe the Smith County Emergency Services District Two should collect only that amount that is necessary to operate the rural fire departments efficiently. In these slow economic times, to over tax Smith County residents would be a crime.
The board of commissioners of Smith County Emergency Services District Two appreciates and values each and every fireman and fire department. Many dedicated men and women give of their time and talents to the very important task of saving property from fire. It is the boards' intent to manage the taxpayers' money in a trustworthy and responsible manner while providing the eleven fire departments with the necessary means to support their fire-fighting activities.
Questions regarding the attached budget may be referred to Rex Coulter, president of Smith County Emergency Services District Two at 903-360-2190, or Sharon Guthrie, secretary.