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City of Falfurrias finalizes agreement with Volunteer Fire Department

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Posted at 7:32 PM, Jun 21, 2024

When someone is in an emergency, they normally call first responders and expect them to show up. However some residents in Falfurrias were concerned that would not be the case. The City of Falfurrias has finalized an agreement between the city and the Falfurrias Volunteer Fire Department (FVFD) to make sure residents continue to be taken care of without worry.

The agreement comes after several neighbors were concerned that the department wouldn't respond to their emergencies since last year funding for the FVFD was never provided due to what the city calls paperwork issues.

“In the past it had been done as a gentleman's agreement, a handshake. But this is taxpayer money we are dealing with so we need to be accountable for that,” City of Falfurrias Public Information Office Ramon Rodriguez.

Chief Ruben Ramirez with the FVFD said losing that money made for a difficult year, and they’re still feeling its effects, having to trim their budget. For example, holding fewer community events.

“It was pretty tough. It was a huge burden on the fire department operating day to day without funding is hard. We did operate off our savings account for a little while. Now that the funding is back in, we’re able to level things out a little bit,” Ramirez said.

Until last year, water bills included an automatic three-dollar fee for the FVFD.

“It’s almost like putting a tax that's not voted on if you include it automatically,” Rodriguez said.

Now that’s not the case. With the new agreement, Falfurrias neighbors don't have to pay that fee, but they can choose to donate the three dollars.

Under the old system, the FVFD used to get just over $5,000 a month in donations. Now they are receiving between $2,000-3,000 along with the $17,200 yearly city contribution.

“It’s black and white. They know they will get their funding and when they will get it. It's the best way to handle this,” Rodriguez said.

Caleb May works just down the street from City Hall. He owns Risen Coffee Company and said he heard neighbors concerned over the possibility of services stopping due to funding issues.

May said he plans on donating three dollars a month, especially after his personal experience.

“They came out and fought a fire for us one time. It was a personal situation but we have first hand experience with the volunteer fire department. So I definitely appreciate them and what they do,” May said.

Chief Ramirez said the FVFD will continue to provide services to the city as per usual and they won’t stop.

“Our mission statement is to protect lives, property and environment. That’s where our hearts lie and that’s what we’ll continue to do until the last dollar,” Ramirez said.