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Taylor County volunteer fire departments ask county for big increase

By Braid Blanks, bblanks@ktxs.com
Published On: Jul 18 2013 05:43:40 PM CDT
Taylor County courthouse

ABILENE, Texas -

All week long, the Taylor County Commissioners have been in budget hearings, and Thursday for the final hearing, it was the Taylor County Rural Fire Committee's turn.

Gary Young, chairman of the committee to the county commissioners and to County Judge, Downing Bolls.

They're asking for $225,699, roughly a 13% increase from last year.  Young says a good portion of that is going to insurance reimbursement costs, but they also need more fire pumps, rescue and communication equipment.

They also need to upgrade their personal protection gear which includes breathing apparatus, bunker gear, and wild land gear to fight wild fires. He says the booming rural population in Jim Ned, Wylie, and Merkel has drastically increased the number of calls they respond to and it's definitely showing up in their budget.

The county commissioners said it will be difficult to come up with the money to meet their budget requests. They have $57 million dollars of requests for the total county budget but only $49 million available without dipping into the reserve funding. No final decisions will be made till September.

County Judge Downing Bolls brought up the idea of having an emergency service district that would be funded by taxpayer dollars.

He said he would like to meet again with the committee to do everything they can to meet the need of the 12 departments with the current county funding.