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South Bexar County Awareness: ESD6 MEETING: Still not taking responsibility for financial problems

Updated on June 23, 2014

Don't Play with Fire

It may have to take something of this magnitude before the South Bexar County community wakes up and gets involved.
It may have to take something of this magnitude before the South Bexar County community wakes up and gets involved.
Sylvia Ruiz Mendelsohn, ESD6 Board President, ESD6 Fire & Rescue, Board President
Sylvia Ruiz Mendelsohn, ESD6 Board President, ESD6 Fire & Rescue, Board President
Bexar County Commissioners: Chico Rodriguez, 2nd from the left.
Bexar County Commissioners: Chico Rodriguez, 2nd from the left.

ESD6 Board Meeting creates more questions as to the direction the ESD6 Board is taking

The ESD6 Board, held their board meeting; as it turned out several community people showed up. Several of the Big Oak/Crossland residents whom were evacuated because of a wild fire were in attendance.

In the past, the volunteer fire departments in southeast bexar county have submitted their bills to ESD6; which according to their contracts; the ESD6 board is to reimburse them for those expenses that pertain to fire fighting.

As Ms. Mendelsohn and her board have done in the past, they have refused payment and have gone through to "pick and choose" what Ms. Mendelsohn feels is appropriate to pay and it has been less than the $8,000 per month the contract states they will receive. As most Texans know, wild fire danger has been extreme due to the lack of rain and the volunteer firefighters of South Bexar County have had some very large and expensive fires to fight. With this, the expenses have gone beyond the norm. Yet, their financial support system and the taxpayer dollars for this are not being spent on firefighting, but on a push for a community/evacuation center.

What most people don't know is that while they are fighting these fires, the firefighters must keep hydrated and fed, they can't leave to take a lunch break, but quick foods can be brought to them at these fires. The Volunteer Firefighters are having to pay for these items out of their own personal funds.

By the agenda, it is clear that Ms. Mendelsohn who has bankrupted the ESD6, has against the laws of governance of an ESD6, applied for a loan to keep the ESD6 going due to lack of funds. The illustrious County Commissioner, Chico Rodriguez has continued to overlook the fact and is helping Ms. Mendelsohn, his campaign manager and her board to continue to manipulate the system.

Transparency on the ESD6 board?

See results

As Per the Agenda

The board has "never" formerly posted any signs indicating that the building is an ESD6 office. Making it difficult for those who want to attend meetings: The offices are on 1604 South (between 37S and 281S) The only postings on the building are for the Chaparral Produce Company, the ESD6 office is the first door on the left.

Although they paid for a website, they never got it set up until recently and almost 3 years later after continuing to pay "the Computer Guy", whom County Commissioner Rodriguez also uses.

Community Comments:

Ms. Faranaci, Cheif of the Ata-Bexar VFD gave an outline of the Big Oak/Crossland fire. She stated that the fire spread quickly due to very dry conditions and wind. She went on to say that she was upset that the County Commissioner did not show up at the site as do others at fires that they have assisted at. In what would be in Mr. Adkinson's precinct, he has made himself available to assist his firefighters in any way possible- food, water, etc. and in the case of Big Oak/Crossland, that Chico Rodriguez did not call, email or have any contact, she stated it was the Southside ISD that showed concern. They quickly coordinated an evacuation center, had the red cross as well as councelors for the community. The buses were made available should they need to evacuate the area as a whole. The children were taken directly to the dedicated evacuation center at the 9th Grade Academy, where they could re-unite with their families and be out of harms way. Ms. Faranaci also stated that the ESD6 board never made contact to see how things were or if the departments needed anything and that the BigOak/Crossland fire was listed as a "Disaster" area and had 14 fire departments dispatched in total, which meant there were 73 firefighters at the scene. Had they not been, they could have lost about 200 homes. As it was the area lost 5 homes, 16 cars and several animals in this fire. She said she was very appreciative to Dr. Jasso and the Southside ISD and once again let the ESD6 board know that their community/evacuation center that now is said to hold less that 300 people and is not on the evacuation route; would not even begin to accommodate the people in that area had they had to evacuate it all and they would not have the resources that the school district has. She said the ESD6 would not have been able to put things together that quickly, nor would they have ability to help evacuate all those people had there been need for it.

  1. Standard agenda items: establishing a quorum, citizens to be heard, treasurer's report, approval of minutes from former meeting, adopting the tax rate (which has already maxed out and they will just vote to keep it at the highest level), while they are required by law to post this item to make the public aware, they have chosen a paper that is not normally read or readily accessible for community members to get. (The Daily Commercial Recorder)

** According to Ms. Vargas, treasurer; the district has received over 500,000 in tax revenue, but no actual figures for what remains was given. Ms. Mendelsohn alluded to the fact that because the tax rate was already maxed they couldn't ask for more and that was also one of the reasons that they didn't have enough money to fund the fire departments. After the meeting, the fire departments did not receive payment because they were out of funds. They did pay their bills, which included $7000 for their attorney, the fire departments did not receive their funding.

2. Action Item: Raise the tax to the Bexar Appraisal District to $1.60 per account.

**Have not received information as to this item.

3. Action Item: Returning a check to the tax attorney's, normal occurrence when someone disputes their tax bill, $12.59.

** Have not received information on this particular item, but it is typically a check returned from someone that has filed a discrepancy on their taxes and is normal.

4. Action Item: Pay their bills for Sept. $14,917.66 and once again, approve bills they paid without board approval of $1,670.55.

** The payment of bills for the ESD6 were approved.

5. Review and Consider "appropriate" payments for the Volunteer Fire Department's August expenses.

** As usual, Ms. Mendelsohn did her "pick and choose" and refused payment on items. Leaving the Ata-Bexar VFD without additional funds for fuel or vehicle repairs, etc.

6. The board will consider authorization for the "bridge loan", no this is not for a bridge; however, given the actions of this board--nothing is a surprise.

** The board approved the authorization for the "bridge loan" which apparently they had already processed before approval, because the VFD's were told that they could not receive any payment due to lack of funds until possibly Monday; when they were suppose to receive the funds from the loan.

7. Discuss the possibility of liening two of the fire trucks from the South Bexar Fire & Rescue VFD. As well as the contract extension for the South Bexar Fire & Rescue. Also, lien's on the trucks for ATA Bexar and Sandy Oaks.

**After Ms. Mendelsohn lost control of her meeting, it was said that she "let the cat out of the bag" and told the South Bexar Fire & Rescue that she had not made the August payment and was refusing to make the September payment of their vehicles until the lien paperwork was complete and they could make sure that the fire truck would become the property of the ESD6. Members of South Bexar VFD were very upset to learn that a repossession letter had been sent and their fire trucks were to be picked up at weeks end. South Bexar Fire & Rescue signed a contract that will take effect Oct. 1, 2011, until then their current contract states that the ESD6 will be responsible for those payments. As South Bexar was not a part of the lawsuit brought against the ESD6 by the Ata-Bexar and Sandy Oaks VFD's, South Bexar current contract is still valid, making Ms. Mendelsohn's actions a violation of their binding contract. On Friday, Sept. 30, 2011, it was learned that the call came in to the fire station to inform them that the trucks would be repossessed on Monday, Oct. 3, 2011.

8. To discuss and possible action on the lawsuit between the ESD6 and Southside ISD.

**The school districts attorney was present for the meeting, no information has come on this issue, but at one point when Ms. Mendelsohn was asked about why the ESD6 didn't have funding for the fire departments; Ms. Mendelsohn replied, "because when you have litigation costs, like the lawsuit by the school district,it takes away money for the fire departments."

What Ms. Mendelsohn may have forgotten, was that the lawsuits came after October 2010, when the ESD6 was already bankrupt to the tune of $5000 left in the coffers to pay the 3 fire departments and the ESD6 expenses leaving her with the only option she felt she had; to closed down the AtaBexar and Sandy Oaks VFD's. What Ms. Mendelsohn did not count on was the passion that the volunteer firefighters have for their jobs and their communities. At this point Ms. Mendelsohn had already spent $100,000 of the taxpayers money to collateralize a loan for her community center project. as well as other items pertaining to the community center and over $100,000 to her longtime friend and attorney, Louis T. Rosenberg for his work on the loan.

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    Mad as Hell 6 years ago

    At the last special meeting/public hearing the "bridge loan" was discussed. It is my understanding that the loan came from the same bank that carries the note for South Bexar's apparatus. The loan is for $70,000. Now, my question is, is this loan in addition to any money "fronted" to them by the county? If so, how much money was received from the county? The debt is getting bigger, the mismanagement is getting worse and we are still without adequate fire protection!

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    Justice 6 years ago

    Well, it gets better. I just found out that the ESD6 is so broke that the "County" probably Chico gave them some money because they had no funds available. They gave a mere $2000 to each VFD and only paid $2000 towards a $30,000 payment on South Bexar VFD's trucks. Just enough to keep them from being repossesed this month. What did they do with the $500,000 they received this year, they certainly haven't been paying the fire departments expenses. My biggest question, if the county had to give them money to make this minimal payments to keep them from being in breach of contract, then they know what kind of financial troubles Syliva Mendelsohn and her board has them in, why keep them in control?

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    Shonda Farinacci 6 years ago

    Thank you again for this informative article. I would like to inform the readers that Ata-Bexar Fire Dept. turned in $22,000+ in reciepts for the month. In front of the community members they graciously offered to reimburse $8,000. However, when the meeting was adjurned and community members left we waited to recieve our checks, they sign the checks for their own bills first, they informed the fire departments that we not be getting ANY checks because they did not have the money available...maybe Friday or Monday! If they are that bad off, then why are they trying to build a station that is not needed?? God bless everyone in this community and I am praying they we can find the strength to continue to carry these departments on our own dime.