Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

March 20, 2013

City, county leaders discuss services

By Bob Belcher
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — City and county leaders met Wednesday for their annual review of city services provided to county residents and to hear the expected county contribution for the coming fiscal year.

Each year, the city asks the county to help pay the costs of services such as library facilities, fire department assistance with fires in the county, economic development costs, animal shelter services, and helping subsidize the city’s ambulance services.

While a formal request for subsidies will be coming later this week, City Manager Connie Standridge and various city department heads gave an overview of the services provided to the county and the overall costs of providing those services.

According to figures discussed at the meeting, the city is going to ask the county for $40,000 annually to help subsidize the animal shelter, up from $30,000 in the present year; continue the agreement on fire calls that charges $250 per call into the county, and a $100 fee if that call is canceled; and continue the current request for $30,000 annually for library services.

An agreement to pay one-half of the salary, benefits and expenses of the city/county economic development director’s office was renewed by the city, at a cost of $78,000 to the county. Also, the city has again requested the county pay for half of the costs of the purchase of two economic development properties — the Northrup Grumman operation in the Navarro Centre, and an industrial park on East Highway 31 — at an annual cost of $76,000 to the county. The county hasn’t participated in the property purchase to date.

The city is also seeking an increase in the subsidy for providing ambulance services to the county — suggesting a hike from $150,000 to either $300,000 a year for each of the next two years, or $250,000 a year for the next three years.

Standridge cited falling EMS revenues and rising expenses as reasons for asking the county for a larger ambulance subsidy.

“There are some operational changes we need to consider if the county isn’t going to participate,” Standridge said.

County Judge H.M. Davenport Jr. said the county was looking at costs as well, including the costs of housing the city’s Class C jail prisoners at no cost, based on a contract dating back to the construction of the new jail facility when the city abandoned a section of 12th Avenue to allow for the construction.

“In a lot of instances, (the prisoners) ‘sit out’ city fines and fees in jail,” at a cost to the county, Davenport said. He cited a figure of around $55 per day as the county’s cost in housing a prisoner, saying that could be low.

“We’re looking at our costs, too,” he added.

Both entities will be studying the costs and subsidy requests as they begin their respective budget discussions over the coming months.

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Bob Belcher may be reached by email at bbelcher@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “Soundoff” on this story? Email: soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com