To: The Citizens of Gonzales County
I would like to comment on the article that was posted on the front page of the Gonzales Inquirer dated July 30, 2020 regarding Gonzales ESD #1. According to one of the Gonzales ESD Board members, the Gonzales ESD Board of Directors was the knight in shining armor that rescued the damsel in distress. The “damsel in distress” being the Gonzales County EMS.
The article stated that the EMS was mismanaged by the incompetent EMS Board of Directors and was corrected by the ESD Board od Directors.
This is far from the truth.
After the removal of the former EMS Director Jim Russel and his wife Carla, there were six new members assigned to the EMS Board of Directors. These members were added as of Aug. 18, 2018. Within three months of this new board, The Gonzales County ESD Board of Directors were given a true and correct financial statement from the EMS.
This was no small undertaking as there were mountains of paperwork and records to go through, some incorrect as was stated in the article. Barbara Hand, Belinda Richter, and Allen Linebrink spent numerous hours (WEEKS) getting those records straightened out. They were solely responsible for the errorless report that was given to the accounting firm hired by the EMS. The ESD Board of Directors was also given a projected budget for 2019.
There was a special budget committee formed by the EMS. After numerous hours by the five- member budget committee, a final proposed budget was reached. The EMS was told that the budget was too high and it was rejected.
I find it ironic that the budget that was submitted and approved by the ESD Board of Directors is almost exactly what was proposed by the EMS and was denied.
The ESD Board of Directors failed to mention that they were able to meet that budget due to the generosity of the citizens of Gonzales County who approved a significant tax increase. This tax increase also allowed the ESD to purchase the four new ambulances and much other needed new equipment. It is not hard to become the knight in shining armor when someone else has done the battling.
The ESD Board of Directors is not totally innocent from the mismanagement that the EMS was accused of. The ESD Board of Directors accepted the same financial statements for years and never questioned them. The ESD Board of Directors had an obligation to question and to audit the financial records they received just as the EMS Board of Directors did.
The deception by the former director and his wife is very unfortunate to say the least. However, I believe that due to a COMBINED effort from both the EMS Board of Directors and the ESD Board of Directors, there is a bright future for our EMS Service. I also want to commend the EMS Employees and Rescue Volunteers for sticking with the service under difficult times. They are the ones who make this service to be in my opinion one of the best in the State.
Former EMS Board of Directors