By Judy Sheridan
Despite stiff opposition from most East Parker County mayors, Parker County voters decided May 11 that the Aledo Volunteer Fire Department district will join Emergency Services District No. 1.
“The word I would use is relief,” Nick Walker, a spokesman for Aledo VFD said. “We weren’t expecting the opposition. We’re glad citizens made the right choice, and we won’t let them down.”
Firefighters sought the annexation to secure a dependable tax base in the face of rising costs. They selected ESD No. 1 for its operational stability and fiscal strength, Walker said.
“Obviously, we’re delighted with the result of the election,” ESD No. 1 Board President Rena Peden said. “We’re looking forward to working with Aledo.”
Voters in both affected entities — the Aledo VFD coverage area and ESD No. 1 — had the same two ballot propositions, one related to the annexation, the other related to accepting the ESD’s debt.
Voters in ESD No. 1 approved both proposals by wide margins, voting 712 to 362 in favor of the annexation and 655 to 407 in favor of voters in the Aledo VFD district assuming a proportionate share of the ESD’s outstanding debts and taxes.
The tallies were much closer for voters in the Aledo VFD district, where voters approved the annexation by only 42 votes — 631 to 589 — and rejected the proposition to assume a portion of the ESD’s outstanding debts and taxes, with 582 in favor and 625 against.
An ESD No. 1 attorney contacted County Judge Mark Riley after the election to say the annexation was successful despite Aledo district voters’ rejection of the second proposition. He said the rejection meant only that the new revenue generated from the annexed area cannot be used to retire the ESD’s previous debt.
ESD No. 1 Board President Rena Peden confirmed the attorney’s statement Monday, saying the ESD would need to construct a separate accounting system to ensure that money collected from the Aledo District does not go toward paying down the ESD’s current debt.
The rejection will not result in a separate, lower tax rate for the Aledo district, she said, nor limit the district’s future revenue contributions toward other ESD fire departments.
“I don’t know what the intent of the [ESD] law was,” she said, when asked about the second proposition’s rationality. “The intent might have been to give some flexibility. Often the rational thing at the time doesn’t always make clear sense.”
Tax collections from voters in the newly annexed Aledo district won’t begin until January 2015, Peden said, because properties won’t be on the tax roll until 2014.
Services, however, should be in place much sooner, she said.
Peden said the ESD No. 1 Board, meeting for a mid-year budget review next Monday, will consider replacing one of Aledo VFD’s fire engines and adding paid personnel. New fire engines have a long lead time from order to delivery, she said, but firefighter positions can be filled quickly.
The county has begun soliciting applications from those who would like to serve on the ESD No. 1 board, which has one vacancy. Peden feels confident that Parker County commissioners will appoint someone to represent the Aledo area.
A political flyer advising citizens to vote against the annexation proposal — sponsored by Parker County Citizens for Responsible Public Safety and signed by the six area mayors — helped trigger Aledo Mayor Kit Marshall’s ninth hour public entry into the political fray.
After saying little since Aledo VFD petitioned ESD No. 1 for inclusion Nov. 8, Marshall came out strongly in favor of the annexation last week.
“It was a result of misinformation I saw in the flyer and the robocalls coming in,” said Marshall, who said she doesn’t usually like to influence how Aledo residents vote. “I didn’t want people to think I was part of that group of mayors. It also became clear that people were confused about what they were reading and hearing.”
Annetta North Mayor Rob Watson said Annetta North officials will now re-evaluate plans they have made with ESD No. 3 to serve the Annettas and continue to encourage ESD No. 1 to provide full-time paid firefighters 24/7.
“Proposition number one passed by a narrow margin even though the Aledo population, by a wide margin, outnumbers the Annettas’ voters within the annexation territory,” he said.
“Based on a report, ESD No. 1 has a large debt balance and financial commitments, so I am pleased the voters voted against assuming the debts and taxes under Proposition No. 2.”
Some of the mayors, however, are working to overturn the election, Annetta South Mayor Gerhard Kleinschmidt said.
“The people in favor of ESD No. 1 managed to obfuscate the issue and make it difficult to comprehend what a yes or no vote would mean,” he said. “That’s part of the reason they got the vote.”
By Judy Sheridan
- Aledo ExtrA
Ride for Heroes a success
Nearly 1,200 cyclists flooded the roads around East Parker County during Saturday’s 12th annual Moritz Ride for Heroes.
Aledo ISD School Board Place 7 candidates
Early voting for the May 10 general election begins April 28. Following is information gathered from the candidates for the Place 7 Aledo ISD trustee race, Hoyt Harris, James Riley Morrison and Debra Rogers.
Aledo ISD School Board Place 6 candidates
Early voting for the May 10 general election begins April 28. Following is information gathered from the candidates for the Place 6 Aledo ISD trustee race, incumbent David Davis and challenger Farida Goderya.
Callaway gets A+
Anita Callaway, an English teacher at Daniel Ninth Grade Center, was named “Teacher of the Year” during the 2014 Marva Collins Teaching Excellence Awards ceremony held April 15 in the Aledo High School auditorium.
Man dies in Farmer Road crash
A 60-year-old Parker County man was killed around 9:30 a.m. April 15 in a one-vehicle crash in the 2100 block of FM Road 3325, also known as Farmer Road.
Fire victims' fund established
Two streets down and hours after many members of the East Parker County community gathered April 5 to present a new home built with donations to the Hancock family, another family in the West Oak subdivision lost their home to a fire and is now in need of support from the community.
Delay adds $56,000 to Aledo Trail project
The long delay in the Aledo Trail downtown couplet, now due to finish in summer instead of spring, will add about $56,000 to the cost of the project, Parker County commissioners learned last week, when they approved a change order upping the contract to around $3.3 million.
Parker County Sheriff's Report March 31-April 11
Theft of property
A deputy was dispatched to 8600 Interstate 20 East, Aledo, in reference to a theft investigation. The 57-year-old male complainant said an unknown suspect stole $1,000 of copper wire from the Sprint tower on the site. A case was made for the theft of property: aluminum, bronze, copper and brass.
East Parker County Calendar of Events
Bearcats ‘N Boots Gala: dinner, auction and entertainment
• 6:30 p.m. at Cendera Center, 3600 Benbrook Highway, Fort Worth.
• Catered by The Wild Mushroom; entertainment by Four Day Weekend.
• Tickets cost $100.
• Benefitting the Aledo ISD Education Foundation
• Title sponsor Buford-Thompson Company.
• For more information, go to aledoef.org.
EXTENSION NEWS: Take a mind vacation
For many of us, every day has some sort of stress associated with it. Whether it is something at home or at work, it seems like there are a million things stressing us out and making us feel overwhelmed.
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