Rural voters approve emergency service district
By LPR Staff
Some taxpayers in northern Caldwell County and parts of Hays County will see a new charge added to their tax bill next year. After more than a year of efforts on the part of Chisholm Trail Fire Rescue (formerly the Uhland, Niederwald and Lytton Springs Volunteer Fire Departments), an emergency service district was approved by
voters on Tuesday.
The measure, which members of Chisholm Trail have been planning and lobbying for the creation of the emergency service district for more than a year. The rules governing Emergency Service Districts will allow Hays-Caldwell County Emergency Service District No. 1 (“the District”), which oversees fire protection and emergency first response, to levy taxes against structures within the district. The District then uses the taxes collected for one purpose only – to provide and enhance emergency protection within the district.
Because the District will contain property both in Caldwell and Hays Counties, CTFR had to wait for election returns from both counties to determine whether an Emergency Service District would become a reality. The measure passed resoundingly in Hays County, by a 70-percent to 30-percent margin. Around 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday, officials received word that 108 Caldwell County voters also approved the measure, winning over the 60 voters who cast ballots against it.
The first attempt by a Caldwell County volunteer fire organization to create an emergency service district was denied by voters in May. In that instance, the McMahan and Mid-County departments attempted to create an emergency service district, but the measure was defeated, 181-89.
According to attorney Ken Campbell, who has been working with district supporters to prepare for the District, the work involved in creating the district has only begun.
“In the next month or so, the County Commissioners in Hays and Caldwell County will set an election to vote on a five-member board of Emergency Service Commissioners,” Campbell said. “After they are elected in May, the fire department will present them with a budget, and after going through that budget, they will be able to set a tax rate.”
Again, the taxes collected will help to finance the activities of the District.
“This is really a good thing for the people of Caldwell County,” Campbell said. “For so long, these volunteer firefighters have gone without a stable source of funding, and this will help them to provide protection not only for the residents, but for themselves as far as safety equipment and bunker gear.”
Residents of the District will see the first appearance of the Emergency Service District tax levy on their 2008 tax bills.