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During the monthly Town Council meeting held Tuesday, May 21, Esto Fire Chief Cliff Kimble again said the Esto Volunteer Fire Department needs assistance with funding.

Kimble and current interim Town Manager and former Councilmember Josh Davenport have previously said Holmes County should assist with funding, considering Esto runs calls outside of the town.

Kimble said their Fire Department covers the second largest area in the county and answers calls outside of town.

“When their workshops for the budget are, we probably need to go down to them and pretty much put our foot down,” Kimble said. “If they say, well, Esto this and that, we need to redo our mutual aid agreement.”

Kimble said, if the County does not cover a requested $17,000 in funding, he is “fair game to propose” that the Town Council request Esto firefighters not go outside a 15-mile radius from the station for mutual aid calls with the County.

“It’s not fair for the town to pay even 50% of our budget, especially because 95% of calls are in the county,” Kimble said.

Under a previous interlocal agreement from 2004 signed by town officials, Kimble said the County is supposed to provide reliability insurance on five fire trucks.

“That would be nice,” Davenport said.

A newer interlocal agreement not signed by Esto officials states the same thing but the area has to be unincorporated or unless the truck is leased to the County, Kimble said.

“You could lease your trucks to the County for a dollar and then they’re going to pay the insurance,” Kimble said. “However, if Pittman Fire, all their trucks go down, hey, take one from Esto. We’re leasing it. You got to weigh your options. To me, I think–and I don’t know if our town attorney and County attorney can get together and do a mutual aid agreement–but the last mutual aid interlocal agreement was 2004 that was signed.”

A mutual aid agreement could be a “step that we take” if Esto does not receive funding, Kimble said.

After the meeting, Town Clerk Ben Tew found a signed copy of the 2018 mutual aid agreement between the Fire Department and County.

Repairs have been made to Esto fire trucks.

“Will we make it through October into January or December when the budget comes?” Kimble said. “I don’t know. I don’t know what the budget stands at now but we’re probably scraping pennies.”

Tew said the Fire Department was budgeted at $2,000 for vehicle repairs this year.

“This newest repair, they are over $8,000,” Tew said. “Even taking out the $6,000 that the County paid for, it was right at the $2,000 radius. Pretty much, the Fire Department has spent its budget for vehicle repair maintenance.”

Kimble said they are running above average on calls.

“We’re over 100 calls right now on the year and usually we’re hitting that in July,” Kimble said. 

Cutting down Esto’s coverage area will put more cost on Pittman and Bonifay, Kimble said.

“Esto don’t need to respond over the bridge,” Kimble said. “We do it because they need help over there.” 

In other news from the meeting, a closing date was set for May 31 for applications for a permanent town manager. Requirements for the position are two years of experience with public works and civic services, living within five miles of Esto town limits, and having a high school diploma or GED.

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