Safety utility fee passes first reading

Ordinance to head to final vote on Monday

DALLAS — The Dallas City Council will vote Monday on the proposed fee to pay for two police officers and two firefighter paramedics.

On Sept. 4, the ordinance creating the fees passed its first reading and is slated for a vote at the council’s meeting Monday at 7 p.m.

If approved, the fee would be $4.85 per month to Dallas water customers within city limits.

Eriks Gabliks, a volunteer firefighter for Dallas Fire & EMS and husband of Councilor Kelly Gabliks, spoke in favor of the fee. He said he was speaking as a Dallas resident, not a member of the department.

“On the chart that the staff put together in blue, is it very clear that number of officers that we have for the size of the community is no longer realistic to provide the service that our citizens demand,” he said.

Gabliks said the same is true of the fire and EMS, as it is responding to more than 3,000 calls per year within Dallas.

“What I would suggest is that you move forward with the two additional firefighter-paramedics because we need them,” he said. “The fact that we’ve been able to do it for so long with a hybrid career-volunteer system truly speaks volumes to the dedication of volunteers, but also to the reality that it’s not sustainable.”

Gabliks added that the entire fire service system in the region isn’t sustainable either. He referenced a meeting in which representatives of Southwest Polk Rural Fire Protection District, Sheridan Fire and West Valley Fire attended in Dallas to discuss a regional district including Dallas.

“They are all broke. They are all looking to work together; they all need to increase taxes just to provide the current service level, and they’d love Dallas to part of that,” Gabliks said. “I think what you also got, if you read the tea leaves, is they are really not interested in working with Dallas in our current arrangement.”

The city is in negotiations with Southwest on its administrative services contract. Dallas Fire & EMS leaders serve as Southwest’s administrators. Gabliks said that contract needs to reflect the higher costs the city is paying to provide fire service in the city and rural district.

“Southwest Polk should stop riding on the back of city of Dallas taxpayers and pay their fair share,” Gabliks said.

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