Weatherford City Council voted to accept the offer from Emergency Services District 3 regarding the contract on Tuesday at city hall.
ESD 3 partners with the Weatherford Fire Department where WFD provides services to the ESD 3 areas, which covers about 75 miles in Hudson Oaks, parts of Weatherford, Annetta, Annetta North and unincorporated Parker County.
Last week, ESD 3 proposed to pay 13 percent of WFD’s operational budget and make payments quarterly instead of having the payment based on appraised value of property. The city of Weatherford agreed to this offer.
Before Tuesday, the contract required ESD 3 to pay WFD 4.8 cents of its total 10-cent tax rate, and ESD 3 payments were escalating because of the increase in property values.
The decision was made in a 3-2 vote with council members Heidi Wilder and Kevin Cleveland opposing. Mayor Paul Paschall and council members Jeff Robinson and Curtis Tucker voted in favor of the motion to accept the offer.
“For me, I think we’re all in the council trying to go the same direction,” Cleveland said. “I see us getting there a different path, and so I think we’re all headed the same way; I think we just disagree on the path that gets us there. I think we’ll still end up in the same place, and we’ll still end up with some of the same results but just disagree on the path to get there.”
Paschall, Wilder, Robinson and Tucker all said that they voted based on what they considered was in the best interest for Weatherford.
“After reviewing all data and options associated with the ESD 3 agreement, I supported the motion made by Councilman Robinson,” Paschall said. “This was the best option that was available in my opinion. While our votes might have differed, all council members had the absolute best interest of our citizens in mind from start to finish during our discussion.”
ESD 3 Board President Ed Huddleston said he is glad that the negotiations are finished. The next steps are amending the current interlocal agreement.
“I’m just glad we worked through it and got it handled,” Huddleston said. “That’s what we’ve been working on for a year and a half.”
Weatherford Fire Chief Paul Rust said the fire department follows council direction and “are here to serve our residents when called upon.” In a previous article, Rust said the offer presented by ESD 3 last week was also presented in July to city council as well.
Earlier in the meeting, council approved the recommendation for funding outside agency requests in the fiscal year 2020 budget. Local entities request funding from the city’s general fund and hotel tax occupancy revenue each year, and council funds the requests at their discretion, Finance Director Jessica Doss said. The hotel fund pays for requests from the Weatherford Chamber of Commerce and Doss Heritage and Culture Center. The general fund pays for requests from Parker County Committee on Aging, Manna Storehouse, Freedom House and Children’s Advocacy Center of Parker County, the latter of which is a new request this year.
Council’s decision added $2,500 more for the Children’s Advocacy Center of Parker County for a total of $5,000.
Council member Heidi Wilder suggested the change, which was supported by other council members.
“I’ve done a lot of work on determining how these agencies benefit the city and how they are cost-beneficial in saving our resources, such as police, fire, etcetera,” Wilder said.
With the change, all organizations are funded at $5,000, except for the chamber that is funded at $96,000. The general fund requests cost $20,000, and the hotel fund requests cost $101,000.
The next city council meeting takes place Sept. 24, according to the city’s website.