KILGORE — When Kilgore firefighters respond to a hazardous material spill on Interstate 20, it’s local taxpayers who foot the bill for the cleanup. The same holds true for structure fires or wrecks just outside the city limits.
That’s par for the course statewide, but costs stack up, and when the Kilgore City Council meets at 5:30 today, it will resume talks — and possibly take action — on how to have some of those costs covered by insurance companies.
“A lot of times in our department, we make responses to people who are outside the city,” Kilgore Fire Chief Johnny Bellows told the council in June. “We’re the ones that clean it up and make things right.
“Currently, our Kilgore taxpayers are subsidizing the emergency services our nontaxpayers are using.”
A proposed relationship with Emergency Solutions would see the city send a bill to insurers that are linked to an “out-of-district” incident.
“The goal of this program is to recoup just some of the costs that are involved when we make a response to people who are not taxpayers and nontaxpaying businesses,” Bellows said.
According to Emergency Solutions, no individuals are billed — only insurance agencies.
Locally, about 25 percent of the Kilgore Fire Department’s call volume is tied to Interstate 20 and unincorporated areas of the county.
“That comes to about 600 calls a year,” Bellows said.
A wreck runs about $600 per call. If just 30 percent of the related expenses can be recovered, that’s an estimated $90,000 per year, he said.