Sundown forced to cut city services to deal with budget crisis

Sundown cutting services to deal with budget crisis
Published: Apr. 15, 2016 at 1:54 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 15, 2016 at 2:38 AM CDT
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SUNDOWN, TX (KCBD) - The Sundown City Administrator is calling it a budget crisis.

The city of Sundown's revenue is down nearly $300,000 from this time last year, mainly because of a downturn in the oil and gas business.

Sundown City Administrator Curtis Schrader, says 75 percent of the city's economy is based off the sales tax revenue the oil and gas business brings in.

He says because the city isn't seeing the same business they used to from traveling oilfield workers, they are having to eliminate three community services, and this is only the beginning.

Robert Garza Jr. has been the EMS Administrator in Sundown for the last three years, but now he will be without a job in Sundown, as EMS service will no longer be available due to these budget cuts.

"It's upsetting, it is. It's not job that you're in it for the money," Garza Jr. said. "You're in it because you love it or you know you're meant to do it."

Garza says his main concern is the people he has served, as Sundown residents will now have to rely on Levelland EMS to respond to their emergencies, which he says will add a 15-minute wait time.

"It's a long wait if something tragic or severe happens," he said.  "But I just feel for the community."

Sundown EMS is one of three services in the city affected by the recent spending cuts.

The city library will close on May 13, and the city pool will not open up as it usually does for the summer.

"Most of our businesses are businesses that sell goods and services directly to the oilfield," Schrader said. "Most of the other businesses, the cafes, the restaurants, most of their business is from workers that work out in the oilfield."

He says the city has sent out letters notifying the community of the problem and outlining why these services have to be cut for now, but he says that doesn't make it any easier for them to take away services in this small and tight-knit community.

"It's like losing a family member when unfortunately I have to sit down with that employee and have this discussion," Schrader said.

Garza says he feels the same way, like he is losing a part of himself that will forever be in Sundown, even as he moves on to a new city.

"I can't put into words, like I said bye to family," he said. "I was always there for fire and PD. And it's just hard."

Schrader says they are trying to maintain as many of the basic services in the community that they can, but he says these are not the end of the reductions.

He says they hope the oil and gas economy will turn back around so they can bring back those services next year.

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