In the closing minutes of the Waelder city council meeting April 2, council member Valentino Hernandez asked City Manager Steven McKay about the possibility of the Gonzales County Emergency Medical Services location in Waelder closing. No one at the meeting had a firm answer.
“They’re trying to keep it hushed,” Hernandez said.
“That’s not something you should keep hushed though,” McKay replied back.
According to Gonzales EMS Director Allan Linebrink, an ambulance may end up having to be cut because of funding reasons. That proposal was put out at the last Emergency Services District board meeting. However, he emphasized the ambulance cut is not a definite and a location has not been selected yet.
“Where that truck would be cut, or when, that is all up to our EMS and ESD boards,” Linebrink said. “I think [their concern] is a little premature. We’re hoping to not need to do that, that’s always the case, the last thing we want to do is downsize.”
On April 9, Gonzales EMS held a workshop with the intent of getting the program within budget. The City of Waelder sent several representatives including McKay and Hernandez, as well as, council member Michael Harris and J Bar B Foods insurance administrator Bonnie Hyman to the meeting.
The board ensured the Waelder group that the EMS closure was just a rumor and that they are not intending to cut the ambulance in Waelder. They will instead look to make cuts elsewhere in the budget. No other action was taken by the board at the workshop.
Linebrink said the EMS’s funding woes are a mixture of many issues, but he specifically mentioned the lowered taxes from the “oil boom” era as a primary reason.
“The funds are just not there any longer because, and I don’t want to say it was mistake on any one person, it was just a larger mistake that was made in not foreseeing the events of upcoming,” Linebrink said. “[The cuts] are not something anybody wants to do, it’s just if the funding is not there to fund as many employees as we have and be able to do what we are doing in order to be able to survive, it’s either that or you fail.”
There are currently six ambulances in Gonzales County across three locations: Gonzales, Waelder and Nixon.
Other news from the Waelder city council meeting: