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Aubrey bites back at Elm Ridge Water District

Aubrey bites back at Elm Ridge Water District

By Basil Gist

Staff Writer

       The Aubrey City Council rounded out its March 28 meeting with an in-depth rebuttal to recent allegations posted online by the Elm Ridge Water District regarding fire services.

       City Manager Charles Kreidler and Fire Chief Eric Schlotter worked in tandem on the presentation, during which they said the district had posted both false and misleading data regarding the city’s request for assistance in building a new station and the department’s quality of service.

        “Keep in mind that there are a large number of inaccuracies to their website and comments regarding Aubrey,” Kreidler said. “I’m only going to address those that I think are most important to the council and the citizens we serve.”

       The entirety of the conversation is available on the city’s YouTube page. It begins at 1:41:28. The most recent news post from the districts as of press time is available on the district’s website and was posted Feb. 23.

       Among those things Kreidler touched on were a proposed annual increase of 29% for fire services the district said Aubrey requested, which he showed to be false, and a claim the districts would be covering 100% of the cost of Fire Station 2, which Kreidler again showed as false.

Aubrey bites back at Elm Ridge Water District

       “As you are aware, the districts have entered into new contracts with another entity for fire service that will occur in the future,” Kreidler said. “Upon review of those agreements, the first year increase to those districts over what they pay the city of Aubrey now will be a 17.8% increase based on current housing numbers. I’m assuming that using the 29% increase here looks a lot worse in comparison to our 18% increase.”

       Regarding the cost of the station, he said, the districts would only have been covering 56% of the station’s cost, the rest of which would be paid by the city of Aubrey.

       Currently, the water districts pay $2,179,334. Aubrey requested they raise this rate to $2,580,000.

       “I have no problem acknowledging my previous statements made to this council, our citizens, and staff and to the districts that the city of Aubrey has been subsidizing the cost of that station for a number of years,” Kreidler said. “You’ll see that the staffing alone, … for the 18 fire personnel at Station 2 is $1,961,324. It should be impossible for anyone to represent or even believe the $2,179,334 would be 100% funding for a fully functioning fire station.”

       He then presented the full number to run station 2 for a year, $3,923,000, derived from the $7,800,000 total comprised of general fund, debt services and council-approved fleet replacement.

       “My comments, too, and the presentation I’m about to provide are all prompted by misleading information provided by both municipal employees of other cities and water district employees,” Schlotter said. “This information was shared in open meetings, on social media platforms and prepared presentations.”

       His comments surrounded the budget process, the department operations surrounding mutual aid and information regarding station locations as they relate to response times.

       Additionally, while the council was asking clarifying questions, Mayor Chris Rich allowed a citizen of Arrow Brooke, who is running for the communities’ administrative board, to speak. She said she believed Aubrey’s request for increased rates was justified and would have been happy to pay the higher rate in exchange for increased security.

       “These are a little more concerning to me because they start to challenge the good work your men and women of the Aubrey Fire Department do every day,” Schlotter said. “This year we answered 1,745 calls in the districts, which amounts to 33% of our total run volume.”

Aubrey bites back at Elm Ridge Water District

       He was most animated regarding mutual aid.

       “This has been a point of contention, so much so that we received a letter accusing us of operating in bad faith and making bad operational decisions in terms of mutual aid,” Schlotter said. “The letter suggested that we have changed our operation method as a means of retaliation as a result of  the ongoing dispute over our contract.”

       He said this stemmed from a presentation from another municipal employee that showed mutual aid information from their side that showed they have to help Aubrey Fire Department 222 times in a year as opposed to Aubrey’s own help of 33 times in that same year.

       He presented data from the last 180 days in rebuttal. Schlotter said 2,740 calls were answered in that time period with Aubrey asking for aid 116 times and giving aid 99 times. Another number he called specific attention to was the number of aid calls the department canceled before arrival and the number of calls that were exclusively for a transport ambulance.

       Seventy of the 116 calls fell into the need exclusively for an additional ambulance. The next highest percentage was the canceled calls— instances in which the department called for aid out of caution before arriving on the scene and determined it was unnecessary.

      “The problem is that people often expect that statistical relationships they hear are immutable,” Schlotter said. “Once you hear it, you can’t unhear it. Whoever gets their information out first or sells it in a more convincing manner, that’s normally what people believe.”


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