An interlocal agreement for fire protection services in the unincorporated areas of Rockwall County -- tabled since Sept. 24 -- finally has been approved by the Fate City Council.
And it was City Councilman John Stacy, the most vocal opponent of the proposed agreement, who made the motion on Nov. 19 night to approve it “after all these many months.”
City Councilman Kerry Wiemokly, however, was reluctant to support the proposed resolution. But when it came to a vote, he “begrudgingly” voted in favor of the motion, along with Stacy, Mayor Pro Tem Sheri Garber and City Councilman Steve Skipworth.
Mayor Bill Broderick and council members K.C. Erwin and Michelle Butler were absent from the meeting.
The issue involved compensation Rockwall County would pay Fate Fire Rescue for providing fire protection services in the unincorporated areas of the county during the 2012-2013 fiscal year.
According to earlier discussions, Fate Fire Rescue answers more county calls than any of the three other fire departments in the county. The complaint was that the City of Fate is compensated less than any of the three other cities.
Stacy had reported earlier that Fate Fire Rescue makes 168 calls and Royse City makes 117. Between the two other cities -- Heath and Rockwall -- “it’s barely 100.”
He said Fate makes $268 a call and Royse City makes about $500 per call. Heath, he added, makes about $3,200 per call and Rockwall makes $1,700.
After the Fate City Council tabled action on the proposed agreement, city managers and fire chiefs met with County Commissioners David Magness and Lorie Grinnan. A decision was made for the current compensation plan for the 2012-13 fiscal year to stand.
City Manager Philip Rodriguez told city council members Monday night that after representatives of the cities and county met, “we all agreed that we would look at overhauling how we do this quite a bit for this next fiscal year, this next budget.”
Fate’s compensation for the current year is $48,000. Even though there was no approved agreement, Fate Fire Rescue continued to respond to calls in the unincorporated areas of the county.
“Well, I think the point of what we did was to try to let the county know they just can’t walk all over us,” Stacy said. “I think we’ve proven our point. Our point was to never walk out on our obligation to serve the people in our ETJ (extraterritorial jurisdiction) or anyone else in that corridor.”
Stacy said he had no problem passing the proposed resolution, but “letting them know that if we’re going to start these conversations, I think that the county fully realizes that if they don’t talk to us, that we might just vote it down.
“And I think that’s the reality that never occurred to them and so we actually tabled the item. So, I guess to make a long story short, I think we got our point across.”
Stacy added that, “I think now is the time to play nice and see if they’ll play nice as well. If they don’t play nice, then it’s going to get very, very ugly in October when we vote down the contract.”
Rodriguez said county commissioners have been “very good to us, trying to find solutions.”
Stacy then said, “I think it’s at that point where we said you’d better listen to us and they’re saying, we’re listening.”
He then said he believed it was time to approve the resolution, but he had one more comment before the vote.
“I believe from hearing the backlash and stuff, I think most of the county commissioners thought we were all OK with this. I think this came as a huge surprise to them. Now, I feel pretty confident they realize we’re serious.”