Intense debate broke out during a workshop session at the Tuesday, June 13, council meeting as councilmembers and staff disagreed on a funding solution to the start of offering ambulance services through Wylie Fire-Rescue.
Unlike nearby municipalities, Wylie contracts its EMS services with a third-party that has had recent issues with staffing because of low compensation, said City Manager Brent Parker. At the contract’s end on Sept. 30, 2024, Parker proposed the city pay for its own ambulance service.
The startup costs are around $3.5 million, he added, and a 3-cent property tax increase along with 2 cents of sales tax and interest earnings would be used to cover the vehicle, equipment and personnel expenses. The proposed tax rate with a further 2-cent increase would come to around $0.58, 5 cents above the no-new-revenue rate of $0.53.
Mayor Matthew Porter and other councilmembers wanted to try and find other ways to cut costs in the budget, which surprised Parker who claimed the council was receptive to his proposal in a past executive session. He further stated that the city already operates a bare bones budget and that he did not condone lumping potential recurring costs into a one-time fund expenditure.
Porter also expressed a plan to lump some costs into other existing budget items that could be used for the ambulance program, but Parker and Finance Director Melissa Brown firmly stated their disagreement with that plan too.
Cooler heads prevailed with Parker and the council agreeing to flesh out more costs and a break even point at a future meeting.
“We’ll look at it and get back to you,” he said.
In other business, council received an overview of proposed wholesale water rates and future projects from the North Texas Municipal Water District. A proposal from the district showed rates for 2023 are $3.39 per 1,000 gallons wholesale with a planned 11% increase to $3.77 next year. Wastewater rates are $3.21 with a projected 6% increase to $3.39 in 2024.
Council also filled vacancies on several boards and commissions that had expiring or vacant terms.
For the full story, see the June 21 issue of The Wylie News.