Brady City Manager, Erin Corbell, Tuesday issued a lengthy letter that lays out the background from the City’s standpoint and current status of the stand-off between the City of Brady and McCulloch County Commissioners on the issue of payment by the County to the City for a portion of the cost of EMS services.
The City Manager’s letter points out that the City has been the designated administrator of emergency services (EMS) for 25 years. The letter recounts the history of payments by the County toward providing that service and points out the County made no payments to the City for fiscal years 2018-19 and 2019-20.
Corbell also breaks down how the current amount being sought from the County — $213,000 for 2021 — was calculated by the City.
The letter refers several times to the point of view that City residents pay County taxes, while County residents do not pay City taxes, and the opinion that City residents should not be expected to subsidize the difference.
The City Manager’s letter concludes by reiterating the City Council position that if there is not an inter-local agreement in place by October 1st, the City will discontinue providing EMS service outside the city limits.
(The Following is the Text of the letter by Brady City Manager, Erin Corbell)
From the City Manager’s Desk
The City of Brady of has been the designated administrator of emergency medical services (EMS) for the citizens of Brady and McCulloch County for over 25 years. As the administrator, the City makes an annual request to the County for a payment that will compensate the EMS Budget for providing services outside the city limits to constituents that do not pay into the City Budget. Over the years, the formula and requested amount has varied with the intent to collect compensation that will provide equity to all citizens receiving Emergency services (Fire assistance, EMS, Dispatch services). The majority of the EMS operations are supported financially by property tax payers, utility customers and some sales tax dollars coming from inside the city limits.
Below is the ten-year payment history from the county to the city for emergency services. Note that no payment was made in 2019 or 2020, leaving the citizens of Brady bearing the entire expense of the service to citizens living outside the city limits. That subsidization cannot continue.
*In years 2013 -2018, the County contributed funding for emergency services that included Fire protection, EMS, and dispatch. In 2019, the then county judge ordered that the county take back the administration of the dispatch services. Additionally, in 2019 the county commissioners declined to contribute any funds toward all emergency services to be provided to those constituents living outside the city limits and again declined a payment in 2020, while expecting full emergency services to be provided free of charge. In 2021, the County began making a payment solely at the discretion of the Commissioners for only EMS services outside the city limits, refusing to pay the full amount requested from the City Council, even after multiple joint meetings to arrive at an agreeable amount.
In response to the City’s request for payment, the County Commissioners are now considering requesting payment from the City of Brady to pay for the cost of dispatch services, administered by the County as ordered by the judge when the new jail facility was built. The City of Brady City Council maintains that this expenditure is already paid for by tax payers of the City of Brady via their portion of county taxes. In fact, the tax revenue McCulloch County receives from properties inside Brady city limits is enough to operate dispatch, the jail, and the county library in their entirety. Any demand for payment from the City of Brady would be double dipping into the amounts the citizens of Brady already pay by expecting the same taxpayer to provide funding from both budgets.
As of 2021, the cost of providing a full-time EMS service to the citizens of Brady and McCulloch County residents was $1.6 million. Insurance collections and grant revenues were $333,000, for a net operational cost of approximately $1.3 million. This year, city staff broke down the number of EMS calls outside the city limits as a percentage of total service calls (16%) and applied that number to the net operational expenditures of EMS and requested that amount as a payment from the county: $1,333,000 x 16% = $213,000. City Council has reaffirmed through multiple votes that this is the amount determined to be the county’s equitable share of EMS expenditures. While this calculation limits the revenue collected from outside city limit clients; it also limits the expenditure of providing the service as well. The idea is to provide economies of scale to the overall benefactor – the citizens of McCulloch County, both inside and outside Brady city limits.
The above calculations exclude any costs associated with fire service. It should be noted that the City Budget has traditionally provided funding for the Brady Volunteer Fire Department, and continues to support Fire assistance outside the city limits.
The County Commissioners have voted to decline to pay the above amount, countering finally with a payment offer of $198,000, a difference of $15,000. While this amount may seem nominal to some, the City cannot accept that lower amount. The reason for this is simple: while city residents pay county taxes, county residents do not pay city taxes and city residents cannot be expected to subsidize the difference. The City Council has voted to stay firm on the bill in the amount of $213,000 based on the premise that it is not equitable for the service to be offered at a discount to the county on the backs’ of the utility and tax payers of the citizens living in the City of Brady.
On September 6, 2022, the City Council voted to bill the county in the amount of $213,000 for EMS services provided, with an interlocal agreement to be signed by October 1, 2022, by the county, or the city will no longer continue to provide EMS services outside of the city limits. Council can no longer in good faith allow the tax and utility payers of Brady to carry an unfair burden of the cost of services that do not directly benefit them.
If you have any questions about Council’s request for payment and the City’s stance on the issue, please feel free to contact me at 325-597-2152 ext. 212 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
City of Brady