Approximately 30 residents and property owners of Oak Ridge Subdivision showed up to Commissioners Court on Monday to show support for the placement of the proposed Emergency Services District on the ballot on November 6.
The issue comes after months of struggle to maintain fire protection for the area.
According to Dale Hoffman, President of the POA at Oak Ridge, it has become increasingly difficult to collect the voluntary contributions from property owners. Those voluntary contributions are used to pay for fire protection for the community. For the last several years, the area has had a contract with the Horseshoe Bay Fire Department, at a cost of a little more than $60,000 per year, and is based on $.09 per $100 tax valuation. When the POA failed to collect the necessary funds this year, 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 Oak Ridge 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 Horsehsoe Bay uses to determine the cost of the Fire Contract.
After getting the necessary approval from the City of Horseshoe Bay and the Emergency Services District #1, Oak Ridge gathered signatures on a petition, 116 of which were certified; 100 were needed, to present to Commissioners Court asking that the issue of forming the ESD taxable entity be placed on the November ballot.
On Monday, Commissioners held a public hearing on the matter. After hearing from Tom Graham and Dale Hoffman, who were for the vote, County Judge Wayne Brascom asked if there was anyone in the room who wanted to speak in opposition. No one stepped forward. When asked if all in the room supported the move, all shook their heads in the affirmative.
Hearing no opposition, Commissioners voted to place the item on the November 6 ballot.
If the matter passes, the ESD #4 will be formed, five qualified residents will be appointed to sit on the board, and taxes will be assessed. However, the subdivision will not receive any of those assessments until the end of 2013.