Tomball - Magnolia Edition | March 2021


Emergency Services District No. 10 has historically contracted with the Magnolia Volunteer Fire Department to provide emergency services. ESD 10, the entity collecting sales and property tax revenue, funds all MVFD operations.

meetings, ESD 10 members vowed to be more trans- parent and to correct issues related to allegations of misconduct. The new ESD board—Charles McDon- ald, Larry Smith, Heath Schultz, Kelly Violette and Je Cunningham—was appointed March 9. “Give us a chance, and over the next few months, I promise you, you will see a dierence in attitude and a dierence in the way things work,” Smith said to the public March 9. At the March 9 meeting, Conroe-based attorney Adam Dietrich was selected to investigate employ- ment matters in the district and the MVFD. Robinson said because the ESD meets monthly and cannot discuss issues with one another out- side of the monthly meeting, the district’s time- line for addressing allegations was hamstrung. Robinson claimed he spoke to a few employees about the lawsuit’s allegations and was told they were false. “I reported back to the board those facts, and we decided we need to go ahead and go further and start a formal investigation. At that meeting when we got together [in January], the DA’s oce had started their own investigation,” Robinson said. “A lot of things changed for us legally once the DA started the investigation.” On March 18, the ESD voted to start the process of terminating its contract with the MVFD, eective Jan. 1, 2022, as the district is required to give the MVFD 240-day notice of termination to avoid the multiyear contract renewing. However, the district could still decide to renegotiate the contract, ESD 10 general counsel John Peeler said. ESD commissioners are anticipated April 8 to dis- cuss scheduling town hall meetings to gather input. Robinson said Peeler advised the district to con- sider becoming a direct provider of re services as it had outgrown its contract with the MVFD. “We informally informed the [re] board that at our next meeting [in March], we were going to pass a motion and give them legal notication that we were opting out of the contract with them. We were going to dismantle the re board, and we were going to become a direct provider,” Robinson said. “We were red before we could.” Eva Vigh contributed to this report.

Precinct 2 commissioner

The Precinct 2 commissioner appoints the ve- member ESD 10 board , which is approved by the Montgomery County Commissioners Court.

The ESD 10 board hires the chief of the MVFD and may employ other positions, such as an oce manager. ESD 10 approves funds monthly for MVFD operations and payroll.

The ESD 10 board appoints the MVFD executive re board from personnel within the MVFD. The re board approves all hiring within the MVFD.

ESD 10 board

Fire chief

MVFD executive re board

Fire department personnel

The chief has the sole authority to create or abolish any positions within the MVFD, per the department’s bylaws.

Fire department personnel, excluding the chief, are employees of and hired by the MVFD, not ESD 10.


date of application for membership, per the depart- ment’s bylaws outlined in the Jan. 13 suit. Harris County district clerk public records show Elisa M. Noriega pleaded guilty in January 2018 to a Class A misdemeanor charge of deadly conduct. Noriega could not be reached for comment. District duties In all but three Texas counties, county commis- sioners appoint a ve-member board to govern ESDs, as dened in the Texas Health and Safety Code, said Cli Avery, executive director of the Texas State Association of Fire and Emergency Dis- tricts. Avery said ESD commissioners are elected in Harris, Smith and Orange counties, as amended by the Texas Legislature. InMagnolia, ESD commissioners then appoint the re board, which selects re department personnel, Robinson said. “There’s a policy in Magnolia that you’re always hired at one rank below; you get a one-year evalua- tion, and at the end of that year, if your evaluation

comes out positive ... then you are given your one- year promotion,” he said. “There’s some people that are administrative that hold the title of assistant chiefs and battalion chiefs, but they are not in sup- pression, and they are not in the stations.” Robinson said Magnolia has raised its salaries in recent years to stay competitive with The Wood- lands to retain reghters. Public information requests indicate MVFD assis- tant chiefs earn $144,201 based on 52 weeks of the 2021 hourly rate. In comparison, records show The Woodlands Fire Department does not have a com- munications position, but deputy chief salaries range from $134,859 to $144,439. Further, the Spring Fire Department’s commu- nications director earns $90,562, and the Klein Fire Department’s public information ocer earns $72,000 annually, according to record requests. Looking ahead As residents called for better communication from both the re board and ESD 10 in March

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