Thursday, June 20, 2024

Northlake approves $100k grant for fire district

The Northlake Town Council last week approved giving a $100,000 grant to the Denton County Emergency Services District No. 1 (formerly the Argyle Fire District) to help address a big budget deficit.

In November, former Fire Chief Mac Hohenberger was indicted by a federal grand jury  on charges of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the firefighters’ pension funds. He has since pleaded guilty to federal charges and is awaiting sentencing.

As part of the fallout of Hohenberger’s surprising arrest, ESD leaders uncovered a mismanaged budget that has left the district with a deficit of nearly $1.9 million. The district has been working on finding different solutions to the enormous problem, including seeking a credit line extension and asking the communities it serves to help it make ends meets. The Lantana Education/Charitable Foundation recently approved a $300,000 grant to help with the shortfall, which new Chief Ricky Vaughan referenced during the Northlake Town Council meeting on Thursday.

“We think by extending our line of credit, we will be down to less than $500,000, so anything we get tonight will go towards that,” Vaughan said. “(The deficit) is $1.5 million currently, but there are actions in place right now to drop that further … We’re doing a lot of things to get us down there, but we’re at about the 10-yard line and just trying to get across the goal line.”

Council members thanked Vaughan for his leadership and the ESD staff members for providing excellent service to residents. Northlake Mayor David Rettig said the $100,000 amount came from his proposal for an approximate $10-per-capita grant to the ESD.

“Since November, we’ve been in discussions on how to address the general fund shortfall they have and get them through this year,” Rettig said. “We made some assurances that we would step in, in some way, if necessary, to make sure the fire service continues. As you can see, the holes are being plugged and they’re stretching as far as they can to make it.”

The five council members voted unanimously to approve the grant.

Mark Smith
Mark Smith
Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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