As it stands right now, when Kilgore firefighters respond to a hazardous material spill on Interstate 20, it’s local taxpayers who foot the bill for the clean-up. The same holds true for structure fires or motor vehicle incidents just outside the city limits.

It’s par for the course statewide, but costs stack up, and Kilgore City Council members are in the initial phase of a discussion 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 reminded the elected officials last month. “We’re the ones that clean it up and make things right.

“Currently, our Kilgore taxpayers are subsidizing the emergency services our non-taxpayers are using.”

A proposed relationship with Emergency Solutions would see the city bill whichever insurers 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 non-taxpaying businesses.”

Per Emergency Solutions, no individuals are billed – only insurance agencies.

Locally, about 25 percent of Kilgore FD’s call volume is tied Interstate 20 and unincorporated areas of the county.

“That comes to about 600 calls a year,” Bellows noted. A motor vehicle collision 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 added.

Council members will resume the discussion during their regularly-scheduled meeting Tuesday and may take action on the proposal.

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