Bertram mayor: July 4th isn’t going to be the same

BY CHRISTI BERTELSON/ BURNET BULLETIN

With Independence Day around the corner, one of the first duties of the new Bertram Mayor Cynthia Anderson has to do is report there will be no Fourth of July Firework Celebration in the City of Bertram.

“I am saddened by this news and it is unfortunate that we will not have this event that has been a part of our community for so long,” said Anderson.

The event, which is usually held by the Bertram VFD at the little league fields in the city on Fourth of July weekend, was cancelled by the VFD on April 25 via social media.

The VFD decision was in reaction to the Bertram City Council requesting them to assist with a monthly fee to help maintain the hydrants and use of the water for all of ESD4.

“Bertram is the only primary water source is ESD 4 that covers a total of 169.5 square miles for fire protection,” said Anderson.

ESD 4 area residents are required to pay .10 cent per every $100 of assessed property value every year to help pay for maintaining equipment, computers and purchasing of items for the Bertram Volunteer Fire Department.

 “The citizens of Bertram not only pay to help maintain the hydrants, in their water bills but also they pay an ESD 4 property tax which goes toward training the Fire Department as well as help maintain and buy new equipment for the VFD and it isn’t fair,” said Anderson.

ESD 4 2014 financial statement that was submitted on June 9, 2015 showed a net of $190,990, which was an increase of almost $22,000 from the previous year.

This was after the ESD 4 spent $486,875 for Bertram VFD computers, machines, training and equipment and also a new fire engine that cost $463,078 to cover the ESD 4 area.

“The contract was set up to the Bertram VFD because they are the ones that utilize the hydrants and water, but they are funded by the ESD 4, who pays nothing towards helping maintain Bertram fire hydrants,”

The contract approved by Bertram City Council on April 12 requested the Bertram VFD pay a monthly payment of $583.33 for assistance in maintaining the hydrants and utilize the bulk water station whenever possible.

“This does not affect the water use for emergency services,” said former Bertram Mayor Dickie Allen during the April 12 meeting.

“We would never cut them off of water for emergency use; we just want them to utilize the bulk water station to fill up during non-emergency situations,”

The city council decision came after the approval of over $40,000 was made in early 2016 to fix hydrants the VFD had damaged along with maintenance of the hydrants.

“We haven’t heard anything from the ESD4 or the Bertram VFD on negotiation of this contract, nor have they paid anything to the City of Bertram at this time,” said Anderson.

Bertram VFD social media post stated the reason for cancelation of the event was due to a charge us an access fee as well as  require them to cut costs of non-essential services including the fireworks show.

“We hope this is a temporary situation and hope that in the next year we will have it again,” said Anderson.

“We just want to reiterate to the citizens and others who show up to see the Fireworks every year that regrettably the event is not ours to host and sadly they will have to attend another firework show,” said Anderson.

 

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