Volunteer fire departments strongly oppose Nacogdoches Co. budget cuts
Nacogdoches, TX — Emotions ran high and voices were raised during a meeting Tuesday afternoon between county commissioners and representatives of the county's volunteer fire departments as part of ongoing budget workshops.
At issue was proposed county funding cuts to those VFDs which are now part of a taxing emergency services district (ESD). Those districts have the capability to tax residents within their service areas a certain amount (most of which have an existing 3-cent cap) per $100 valuation.
The 2011-12 county budget would realize a savings of just under $43,000 should the commissioners decide to eliminate the funding to ESD affiliates, which are capable of raising tax funds through the districts.
Commissioners cite a significant budget shortfall - one that would lead to employee layoffs and cutting of hours, requiring each county employee to pick up $145 monthly of their health insurance costs and curtailment of county services - as reason behind the cut. None of the county employees for which the court has authority to set salaries will receive a raise this year, including the commissioners and county judge, which will take a $4,000 cut each in their compensation packages, according to a recent letter to department heads.
Following the heated meeting, County Judge Joe English said attempts were made to help the volunteers understand that the county is facing layoffs, and no department or particular area of the budget is being singled out.
"We're either going to raise taxes or cut services and scale back," he said.
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