A public hearing will be held on July 23 at 10am at the Llano County Law Enforcement Center in order to determine the need for the creation of an emergency services district for the Oakridge subdivision located in the ETJ of Horseshoe Bay. The ESD would provide for fire protection and would not replace services currently provided by ESD #1, which provides ambulance services.
In recent months, Oakridge has struggled to maintain fire services due to the inability to raise enough funds to pay for services provided by the City of Horseshoe Bay.
Currently, Oakridge has a fire contract with the City of Horseshoe Bay to provide fire services; however, the subdivision suspended that contract on May 1 due to the inability to pay for it. It was later reinstated on May 22.
Prior to terminating the fire contract, Oakridge requested to be let out of Horseshoe Bay’s ETJ. The POA approached the HSB City Council at their March 20 meeting asking that they be allowed to leave the ETJ for a short period so that they could change their deed restrictions. Because they are in the ETJ, deed restrictions cannot be changed. The POA wanted to make assessments mandatory without a 100% approval of all property owners. Leaving the ETJ would mean that only 67% of property owners could approve the change in the restrictions. The City of HSB denied that request.
When the subdivision was established, a property owner’s association was created, however, membership and any assessments paid to the Oakridge POA were made voluntary under the bylaws. Non-members say that a vote to enter into the contract has never been taken, and that assessments are not fairly done.
POA President Dale Hoffman has said that for the last several years, the difference between funds collected and the amount needed for the contract has increased to the point where the organization has been forced to utilize reserve funds. This year, the POA was short $5,200 at the mid-year point, and that prompted the decision to terminate the contract.
The Fire Contract costs the subdivision $60,381 per year, and is based on $.09 per $100 tax valuation. When the POA failed to collect the necessary funds, they canceled the contract, leaving the community’s fire service in limbo. The only fire department in the county available and willing to provide services was Kingsland VFD, and the chief of that department agreed to respond, but expressed concern that it would take up to 45 minutes to arrive on scene once called out.
On May 11, a Community Meeting was held to discuss options, including entering back into the contract, forming their own volunteer fire department, or forming an emergency services district, which could impose taxes that could then be used to pay for the contract between Oakridge and Horseshoe Bay.
During that meeting, board members said that 208 invoices has been sent out for the six-month fire contract, and that of those, 158 paid, and 46 did not, resulting in approximately 22% opting not to pay.
Voting to reinstate the contract, the board began to explore their options to guarantee the continuance of coverage beyond this year, deciding to move forward with the formation of an ESD. The State of Texas allows up to $.10 per $100 tax valuation to be imposed by an ESD, which is just slightly more than the approximately $.09 per $100 that the City of HSB uses to determine the cost of the Fire Contract.
The rate is used for all fire contracts with the City, including Deerhaven, Llano County MUD #1, The Hills, and Horseshoe Bay Proper.
In order to form an ESD, there must be at least 100 signatures collected on a petition, then a request to form the ESD has to be brought to the Commissioners, an election requested and then all registered voters will be able to vote on the matter.
According to Llano County Judge Wayne Brascom, a petition from Oakridge was submitted to the county with 130 signatures. Of those, 116 were verified to be both property owners and registered votes, enough to call for a public hearing.
If approved, an election will be called for November 6 to vote on whether or not the ESD will be formed.