Pharr EMS lays off nearly 40 employees amid budget problems

Pharr EMS personnel can be seen in this undated photo. (Courtesy: City of Pharr/Facebook)

The city of Pharr laid off about 40 EMS employees on Friday, according to information and a letter obtained by The Monitor. The news follows the termination of an interlocal agreement between the city and Hidalgo County. 

Interim City Manager Anali Alanis confirmed the city met with employees today and personally distributed the letters informing them of their employment status.

“As we have previously discussed, Pharr EMS must remain a self-sustainable system, unfortunately, due to the inadequate call volume and payor mix, we did not reach this goal this year,” the letter stated. “The service areas that we have agreements with have been made aware of this situation, and we asked them for additional support to remain sustainable and as of yet, they have not agreed to cooperate with our request.”

Alanis told The Monitor on Friday the decision was made after attempts to keep them were unsuccessful and cited budget problems.

City of Pharr letter to EMS staff Sept. 23, 2022.

“Therefore, effective September 30, 2022, at 11:59 p.m. we will cease operations in both Hidalgo County Precinct 3 and Hidalgo County Emergency Service District 2 areas. This means that we will not be able to keep all the staff that we currently have employed, and you will be laid off from the City of Pharr effective October 5, 2022 at 5 p.m.,” the letter added.

The city of Pharr previously canceled its agreement with the county to provide emergency medical services in rural areas. On Tuesday, Hidalgo County commissioners accepted the letter of termination during a regular meeting. Richard F. Cortez, the county judge, said the county will be seeking a six-month contract to help fill the void of emergency services in those areas.

Employees who were laid off will receive some compensation.

“You will receive 80 hours of pay in lieu of notice after your last working day (Oct. 5, 2022 at 5 p.m.). Any annual leave that you have not used will be paid out as well,” the letter stated. “This check will be available in the Human Resources Department at City Hall 4th floor on October 21, 2022 or it can be mailed to you if you wish.”

Alanis referred further inquiries to deputy city manager Ed Wylie, who she said was more involved with Pharr EMS. 

When attempts were made to reach Wylie for comment, The Monitor was told that the city would be releasing a statement soon.

The city released a statement late Friday restating Alanis’ earlier comments and adding, “Pharr EMS welcomes the rehiring of eligible employees when there presents an increase in demand for services.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated for clarity, and to include a statement from the city of Pharr.