An effort to put a question on the ballot about creating an Emergency Services District (ESD) in the DeCordova/Acton area came to an end Tuesday when no one on the Hood County Commissioners Court seconded Precinct 1 Commissioner Kevin Andrews’ motion to grant the request.
An ESD is a political subdivision established pursuant to Chapter 775 of the Texas Health and Safety Code. It generally supports or provides local emergency services, such as firefighting efforts.
An ESD can impose a sales and use tax and a property tax to raise money for emergency services within the district.
Last year, both the DeCordova and Tolar volunteer fire departments circulated petitions in support of the Commissioners Court allowing a question about creating ESDs to be placed on the ballot for voters in those service areas.
Fire Marshal Jeff Young said that the Tolar VFD did not complete its petition efforts, but that the DeCordova VFD did submit a petition with the required number of valid signatures.
The issue has been controversial, and the subject of county workshops in recent months.
In making the motion, Andrews, himself a volunteer firefighter and former chief of the Lipan VFD, said he was doing so to fulfill a campaign promise.
Young said Wednesday that he doesn’t know that the county will be able to sustain purely volunteer firefighting efforts forever but said that firefighters within the county’s nine volunteer fire departments feel that the Commissioners Court is aware of the departments’ challenges and is committed to doing everything possible to address them.
The HCN reported earlier this month that the court is considering increasing each department’s annual stipend to $100,000 – a significant increase from the current $30,000 – and committing $15 million or more to fund equipment such as additional tanker trucks.
Some fire stations might be remodeled to add bays for additional firefighting trucks and, in areas where medical call volume is the highest, ambulance bays. New stations might also be built.
The county is currently in the budgeting process for the 2022 fiscal year. No decisions have yet been made on fire department funding.