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Texas city, county reach tentative agreement on EMS outside city limits

Mineral Wells Fire/EMS received $144K from Palo Pinto County for service outside the city



By Glenn Evans
Weatherford Democrat

MINERAL WELLS, Texas — An agreement that was tentatively reached Tuesday will help fund Mineral Wells ambulances servicing some 3,000 residents outside the city.

“I hope that nine months from now we’ll have a solution,” Ward 3 Councilwoman Beth Watson said, shortly before the council authorized Mayor Regan Johnson to ink an agreement by which Palo Pinto County will contribute $144,000 to the city’s EMS service this fiscal year.

The motion was contingent on an unnamed tweak Palo Pinto County Attorney Maegan Kostiha was finalizing.

“I do commend the county for stepping up,” Place 1 Councilman Kyle Kelley said.

The city asked the county for help with EMS funding this past summer because of a growing number of calls the city crews are answering outside the city limits.

Backup information given to the council Tuesday indicated those calls have placed the city a shade less than $300,000 in the red since 2021.

And that’s including $54,000 that Emergency Services District No. 1 contributes to Mineral Wells EMS for making runs in an area roughly from Salesville west to the Brazos River and south to 7 Mile Hill Road.

“But our people are the taxpayers, and there’s a point where the situation is unsustainable,” City Manager Dean Sullivan told the council. “And we’re there.”

City residents are not subject to the 1.5-cent sales tax most of the rest of the county pays to the Graford-based Emergency Services District No. 1.

They do, however, pay the 2.66-cent property tax the rest of the county faces, but those funds do not go to the district’s EMS side.

The property tax is the city’s share for the dozen volunteer fire departments in the county the emergency services district funds.

The district runs its ambulances on the sales tax.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with fire (service),” Sullivan said. “There are 3,000 people (outside the city) who depend on our EMS when they pick up that phone.”

Sullivan said the emergency services district did not participate in talks he and the mayor had with County Judge Shane Long and Commissioner Jeff Fryer.

“To date, that hasn’t happened,” he said, later emphasizing the city’s commitment to answer ambulance calls regardless of where the caller lives.

“It’s about people when you’re talking about medical services,” he said.

Mayor Pro Tem Doyle Light lamented the emergency services district’s absence from discussions. Light also repeated a call that Palo Pinto General Hospital be brought into the EMS funding talks.

“I wish the discussions were in a better state than where they are with the three entities — actually the four entities,” he said. “This agreement, as I understand it, is to allow us a year to hopefully have those discussions to bring us a long-term solution. Lacking any substantive change, I certainly am OK with continuing to have discussions with the county and trying to get all four entities.”

Palo Pinto General does not have an ambulance service. Hospital spokeswoman Megan Hudson said this week that no one from the city has formally reached out for EMS funding.

Attempts by the Weatherford Democrat to reach service district Commissioner Carolyn Land were not successful.

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