Pflugerville City Council initially approved negotiations with ESD 2 at a May 10 meeting. However, City Manager Sereniah Breland said at a meeting May 24 that negotiations hit a roadblock when, before formally meeting with the city, ESD 2 officials spoke with media outlets stating they would maintain their request for an additional $2.8 million in annual funding.
"We do not negotiate through the media," Breland said. "Despite our best efforts, ESD 2 has not provided a justifiable reason for that amount."
Council members echoed Breland's point, holding that they would respect Pflugerville voters' decision last November not to use ESD 2 if it meant additional taxes.
"The good folks of Pflugerville overwhelmingly decided on no new tax," Council Member Ceasar Ruiz said.
ESD 2 Fire Chief Nick Perkins spoke at the meeting to clarify that there are routes the city and ESD 2 could take to meet the city's goal of no more than $291,000 in annual expenses.
One option, Perkins said, would be for the city to take on billing responsibilities for ambulance services. However, he said the city and ESD 2 had not had a chance to formally discuss options for reducing the impact on Pflugerville's budget.
In the interest of bringing all parties on the same page when it comes to funding options, Mayor Pro Tem Doug Weiss suggested holding a joint meeting between the city council and ESD 2 commissioners.
Council unanimously approved a motion directing Breland to arrange such a meeting within the next 10 days.
At Council Member Kimberly Holiday's recommendation, the motion also directed Breland to begin negotiations with private ambulance service Allegiance Mobile Health as an additional option.
Weiss said Allegiance will be a necessary fallback in the event that the city cannot reach an agreement with ESD 2 in time.
"I don't have confidence that we can get all that done in the next six weeks to come together and finalize a deal," Weiss said.
Breland said her goal is to present a finalized contract for approval at council's next meeting on June 14.
Council members agreed that whichever provider the city ends up choosing, developing its own in-house ambulance service should be a priority in the future.
"We have to build toward having our own internal EMS services," Council Member Rudy Metayer said. "Something sustainable will need to be under the city."