After months of relatively cool-headed discussions, Harris County Emergency Services District No. 11 commissioners and representatives for Cypress Creek EMS returned to yelling at one another over the proposed budget for the last year of their contract.
During a March 18 meeting, commissioners reviewed a proposed CCEMS budget for January to August of this year and began questioning how much the district owed for funding ambulances in its own district without CCEMS’ other revenue sources.
CCEMS President-elect Enrique Lima said CCEMS did not separate revenue streams from one another in its report to the district. Regina Adams of the law firm Radcliffe Bobbitt Adams Polly PLLC, who represents ESD No. 11, asked why the district should pay for nonessential services outside of the district’s coverage area, such as a recent marathon in The Woodlands to which CCEMS sent several trucks.
At that point, Lima and Commissioner Kevin Brost began arguing over what the district will provide funding for.
“The district is not going to pay for things you want to do,” Brost said. “Shut your mouth! ... We are not going to pay for things that you want to do. Okay, we're going to pay for the delivery of EMS services to our citizens.”
Brost said the district would pay for the total cost of ambulance services for the 19 ambulances in the area, but not for what described as “extracurricular” items or to fund CCEMS’ lawsuits against the district. Later on, as Brost questioned CCEMS CEO Wren Nealy, Brost was interrupted by two community members, at which time Brost threatened to have them removed from the meeting by law enforcement.
“I want to know what it costs you to send an ambulance to my house or anyone else's house,” ESD No. 11 President Karen Plummer said. “And pay the paramedic that goes there, pay for the fuel to get him there, pay for the insurance it costs to have him there and pay his salary and pay for the cost of that truck. That's all I want.”
Commissioners eventually approved a $1 million payment; that number, they said, is only a budget and not an actual payment. They also agreed to have a budget committee meeting with CCEMS before the district's next meeting to clear up questions.
In an email statement after the meeting, Nealy said the district withholding fund from CCEMS is putting a strain on the EMS service.
"This continuation of their withholding from last year and the resulting budget shortfall is making this transition process needlessly difficult,” Nealy said.