Bell County officials argue over budget

By: Marcus Conroy Email
By: Marcus Conroy Email

Bell County Volunteer Fire Department officials are threatening to shut down two of its nine stations because of budget concerns.

However, a restraining order was issued keep those station open.

Bell County Judge-Executive Albey Brock says the fiscal court has made many tough budget decisions in the last couple of years.

"Times are tough. We need to define what the difference between what our county needs are and the wants," Brock said.

He says he cut the Bell County VFD's budget a few years ago, and has kept it around $190,000. That's a number director Roy Amburgey says is so low, they are forced to cut into emergency funds.

"We have $2.5 million worth of equipment, and without those emergency funds, it's hard to function," Amburgey said.

Amburgey says they may have to close two stations in Arjay and Colmar to save money. But he says homes in those areas would still have protection from nearby towns.

Brock says closing the stations would hurt the communities, so the fiscal court filed a restraining order to keep them open.

"He continued to say they would close, so we felt we had to protect taxpayers interests and keep the stations running," Brock said.

"The goal is to keep them open, but it is in the conversation because of him (Brock)," Amburgey said.

Both add they want to do what is best for the people.

Brock also filed a new ordinance for a fire suppression fund, which would add about $80,000 to the fire department's budget. However, that money would have to be approved by the fiscal court before going to the fire department, which Amburgey is against.

The ordinance is pending a second reading.

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