Bowie residents voice concerns about canceling EMS service outside of city limits

Bowie residents voice concerns about canceling EMS service outside of city limits

BOWIE, TX (KAUZ) - Bowie city leaders are looking to make some cutbacks when it comes to spending, and many residents voiced their disapproval of the city's ambulance service outside of the city limits being one of them at Monday night's town hall meeting.

Dozens of residents from all over Montague County packed the Bowie Community Center along with first responders from the area to voice their concerns.

Things got kind of heated towards the end when some people brought up other funds that could be cut. Like raises some city leaders recently received.

Larry Slack, Bowie mayor, and Ricky Tow, Bowie's city manager, said serving residents who live outside of the city limits will cost the town an estimated $340,000 revenue loss and Bowie residents money.

Tow said Montague County is only paying them $30,000 for the city's ambulance service.

He said he knows it is important, but wants the county to pay for the service because the city needs help funding it.

Still,  some community members are unhappy about the idea of not having this option.

Many spoke out at the meeting and said they have family members that live outside of the city limits, or they themselves do, yet pay property taxes in Bowie.

Some first responders said not serving those who live out of city limits will cause them to lose crew members and could cost lives.

"So, what I'm asking is what is an acceptable net loss to be in the business of saving lives," said one Bowie firefighter.

However, the city leaders backed up their claims.

"We have great firemen, and no there has not been a city board member who said let's get rid of the fire department," said one city councilmen.

October is when the plans to stop this service is expected.

Mayor Slack said cutting out this service will also save the city money on ambulance repairs and having to replace the vehicles every four years or so.

Levi Davis, a former Bowie EMS Lieutenant Paramedic, who has worked for the city for six years said he knows Bowie is in a financial crunch.

He said Tow has asked if the volunteer firefighters could operate without the paid department.

"There are a lot of other places to cut first," said Davis. "The city manager gets a housing allowance and a vehicle allowance. Why public safety first?"

Davis said at the town hall meeting the Mayor told residents that a study was being done to take over the ambulance services for inside and outside of the city.

"He also stated that cutting an ambulance service outside the city would allow for cutting half the staff," said Davis.

Mayor Slack said the reason for cutbacks is a decrease in the city's sales tax revenue, loss of hospital jobs with the closing of Bowie Memorial and the recent decline in the oil industry.

He said the city will see a more than $1,000,000 loss if they do not make a change, but adds city leaders will look at every option.

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