Pflugerville officials have approved a notice of intention to issue certificates of obligation, or COs, in the amount of $5 million for expenses pertaining to general emergency medical services.
The notice came during a June 29 special meeting, at which council also voted to remove from consideration another notice of intention for a CO in the amount of $10 million.
Council voted 5-1 in favor of the move, with Council Member David Weiss voting no and Council Member Rudy Metayer absent.
That money was planned to be earmarked for land acquisition where a new City Hall facility would reside,
Council Member David Rogers called for the removal of the $10 million budget amendment for fiscal year 2021-22, citing the fact that Pflugerville residents have been vocally opposed to including an expenditure of that size without citizen approval.
Because the $10 million would have been added to the budget through a CO, an election would not have been required. In the last several weeks, many Pflugerville residents have raised objections to the move, citing most among their reasons the potential for property taxes to be raised without their consent.
"I would recommend that we ... listen to the citizens who are pretty unanimous about this," Rogers said, and added the ethical thing to do is steer the funding allocation process toward a bond election.
Though Rogers acknowledged the decision would no doubt hamper or outright kill plans to acquire land the city already had in mind but has not yet disclosed for a new City Hall, he said he must stick to his convictions.
Council did not provide direction to city staff regarding any further action centered on the deletion of the $10 million, but officials indicated they will revisit other options at upcoming meetings with public input more heavily factored into the process.
City Council has not yet attached a specific project to the approved notice of $5 million for general EMS,
Pflugerville officials said in a June statement to Community Impact Newspaper the $5 million allocated for EMS is a safeguard against a potential gap in services that stems from a request from Travis County Emergency Services District No. 2, which provides fire and ambulance services to Pflugerville, areas of Austin and nearby unincorporated areas of Travis County.
ESD 2 has requested an annual payment of $2.87 million from the city of Pflugerville, stating the district does not have the budget to continue providing EMS past Sept. 30.
In response to that request, city officials hired consulting firm AP Triton to examine ESD 2’s budget.
AP Triton’s findings, which were presented to City Council on June 21, concluded ESD 2 did not need the $2.87 million subsidy from Pflugerville.
“In light of the report provided by AP Triton, which shows that Travis County ESD 2 has adequate funding for the next five to 10 years, we are hopeful that we will not need to issue this debt to implement an alternate solution for EMS services,” the city’s statement said. “However, the city needs to have the tools and resources available to quickly implement the appropriate course of action to ensure our residents do not experience an interruption of EMS services. The [notice of intent] ensures funding up to $5M is available if it is needed.”
During discussion of general EMS at the June 29 meeting, Rogers echoed the city's statement, saying the possibility of ESD 2 discontinuing ambulance services to the city necessitates the creation of the $5 million reserve within the budget.
Council voted 6-1 to approve the NOI for EMS with Weiss again voting no.
A city document states a notice of intent must be placed in a newspaper of general circulation in Pflugerville at least 46 days before passing an ordinance to issue the CO.