The department collected about 100 petition signatures from affected residents and approached the ESD in November seeking annexation of their fire service area because of declining funding, increasing number of calls, rising costs and other burdens on the department in recent years.
Tasked with providing emergency services, an ESD can levy an ad valorem tax of up to 10 cents per $100 valuation, according to state law.
Because the cities of Aledo, Annetta, Annetta South and Annetta North do not provide their own fire service, all or portions of the cities were included in the annexation proposal.
The department’s budget has dropped in recent years from approximately $500,000 to about $250,000 in annual funding, department officials reported.
The past three years, the City of Aledo has contributed $50,000, covering the cost of one paid firefighter working weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. At one point, the city was donating more, according to Walker.
Together, the 3three Annettas have averaged a total of about $1,300 in yearly contributions during the past three years, according to Walker. It has not been a consistent number as the towns have given what they could, Walker said.
The department also receives subsidies from Parker and Tarrant counties, including about $49,000 from Parker County and $34,000 from Tarrant County ESD No. 1 for coverage of about 20 to 30 square miles in unincorporated areas.
However, the department is primarily funded through donations. The fire department will die if it continues the way it has, Walker said.
Willow Park issues
As only voters in the current ESD and proposed annexation area will vote on the issue, Willow Park residents won’t have a say.
Part of the concern for Willow Park is the cost of annexing property from an ESD.
Cities can take over responsibility for providing fire service for areas in their ETJ but must, according to state law, compensate the district based on the area’s share of debt, as well as property used to provide services, when that area is disannexed from the district.