Both the Lake Dallas and Hickory Creek city councils decided to renew their five-year contracts with Corinth for fire department services after lengthy discussions and threats to opt out.
Both cities voted Thursday night in their respective council chambers to stick with Corinth, for now.
The cities agreed to a $300,000 reduction from the original $4.6 million proposed contract. They also agreed to keep the vehicle replacement program, which Lake Dallas and Hickory Creek originally wanted eliminated.
Corinth will now submit the revised contract to each council to finalize the agreement.
Lake Dallas Mayor Tony Marino said the month-long negotiations were necessary and proved beneficial to each community under the contract, which includes Shady Shores.
However, Marino expects both Lake Dallas and Hickory Creek city officials will revisit the idea of possibly creating a joint or separate fire department for their communities.
“We’ll probably look at that scenario again two to three years from now,” he said.
Lake Dallas Place 1 council member James Harper said the negotiations resulted in a savings of about $70,000 for the first year.
Harper added that before negotiations, Lake Dallas and Hickory Creek officials weren’t comfortable with Corinth’s level of spending for fire services.
“We got a better deal out of it, and it’s a lot better for our citizens,” he said.
“Eventually, if we do decide to go out on our own, we could save more.”
Originally, Lake Dallas and Hickory Creek wanted to cut $600,000 from the budget. Corinth officials felt that cutting that much would have jeopardized how well the fire department could serve the community.
Marino said he and Hickory Creek Mayor John Smith requested the cuts because Corinth collects revenue from its fire department services.
Marino said his community and Hickory Creek either deserved a cut of the revenue or a decreased price tag.
Corinth Mayor Paul Ruggiere said it was beneficial that each community renew its contract.
“It’s the best solution all around,” he said in a previous interview.
Had the two cities opted out, Corinth could have possibly faced slightly higher taxes and restricted its debt payments to fund the fire department services, Ruggiere said.
Corinth had to prepare for the chance Lake Dallas and Hickory Creek would not renew agreements, he said.
In 2007, Corinth obtained control of the fire department after each Lake Cities community decided to eliminate the department’s governing board in exchange for a five-year contract with Corinth.
Lake Dallas and Hickory Creek councils responded to Corinth’s proposed contract with a letter, detailing cuts they wanted.
In a Corinth city meeting last week, officials agreed meeting the councils’ demands would severely hurt the fire department’s ability to operate.
Lake Dallas and Hickory Creek councils also wanted to remove a $1.4 million vehicle replacement program that each council would help fund.
Lake Dallas City Manager Earl Berner said it was the best decision to stick with Corinth.
“For now it’s the right choice,” he said. “We’ll take another look at it when the time comes.”
JOHN HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .