Big Spring votes to fund SAFER grant for fire department

Published: Oct. 30, 2020 at 7:41 AM CDT
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - The Big Spring City Council voted unanimously tonight to keep SAFER grant funding for the Big Spring Department.

In an often-contentious meeting, the city council decided not to cancel the grant, which allows the fire department to hire 10 new firefighters.

Much of the discussion revolved around a misunderstanding. In September 2019, the city received a $1.3 million SAFER grant from FEMA and an additional $800,000 from the Big Spring.

Until now, the city has only received $22,000 in grant money, but the city hasn’t hired the additional firefighters, meaning they’re violating the federal grant terms.

After numerous citizens got up and spoke on the department’s behalf, the council voted to acquire all the money, which will take at least one more council session.

It was a decision that drew applause and praise from the numerous firefighters present.

“We’re just overwhelmed at the support of our citizens here in Big Spring,” said Fire Lieutenant Chanley Delk, who is also the Big Spring Professional Fire Fighters Association President. “That’s what we’re in for. We strive to be good stewards of the city’s resources. We don’t have a carte blanche or an open checkbook. We’re just asking for what’s right.”

To properly fund the fire department and its 10 new hires, the city says it will likely have to increase property taxes by 7.1 cents.

All the Big Spring residents who spoke at Thursday’s council meeting said it’s an increase they’ll gladly accept.

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