Seniors get a 20 percent discount on El Campo utility rates, but people needing ambulance service can expect to pay higher bills.

The changes are part of a list of new or updated fees unanimously approved by city council Monday night.

Starting with the utility bill due in November, the 2,500-gallon water base rate for seniors will drop from $13 to $10.60 with each additional thousand gallons billed at $2.52.

Sewer rates for seniors will drop from $14.25 per month to $11.40 with each additional thousand gallons set at $3.80.

For the discount, a senior citizen is defined as residents 65 and older who must opt-in. 

“They will need to fill out a short application that they can obtain online or at the city (starting Monday),” Finance Director Brittni Nanson said. “It will be available to homeowners who have a senior freeze on their property taxes, and we will validate it through the Central Appraisal District.”

Renters can claim the discount as well as long as they are the account holder, can provide a lease agreement and proper ID.

One person can only claim the discount on one residence, however. A senior landlord, for example, could not get the discount at their personal home and reap it on their rental property as well.

Other city fees are still charged at regular rates.

A basic ambulance call rises from $800 to $1,000 while a worse case scenario call rides from $1,100 to $1,300. Additional fees are added for oxygen and mileage.

The costs are “at or just below everyone else in the region except Wharton,” El Campo EMS Director Weston Davis said. “In Wharton, they increase the tax rate. Our ESD (Emergency Services District) prefers that the user pays more than the taxpayer.”

The new fees allow for a 25 percent discount for those who quickly pay their bills.

District 2 Councilman David Hodges endorsed the user fee based EMS service rates to boost revenue, gaining partial support from At-Large Councilman Philip Miller.

Another concern, Miller added, is over all collections – an issue that has yet to be addressed.

Council has expressed concerns with EMS collections multiple times in past sessions.

The EMS Director is reportedly preparing requests for proposal, the procedure used to collect firms.

For professional services like collections, work does not necessarily go to the lowest bidder. Instead, the company which best suits the city’s expectations is chosen.

New trash fees as approved with the change from Waste Connections to Texas Disposal Systems which starts work next week.

Other fees include now charging for fingerprinting ($15), quarantining an animal for rabies observation ($100) and $30 to surrender a pet.

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