Weatherford Democrat

Local News

August 16, 2012

ESD No. 7 puts annexation on ballot

PARKER COUNTY — A roomful of members of the Millsap community showed up Tuesday night to hear the latest on the possible marriage of the Millsap VFD and Emergency Services District No. 7 at a public hearing at the Greenwood VFD station.

While the majority of the public spoke up with questions about the effects of the annexation, a handful of area residents voiced strong opinions.

“We don’t need you and we don’t need this,” Helen Parks told ESD No. 7 board members.

After the discussion and additional public input, ESD No. 7 board members voted to post annexation on the November ballot.

“I understand that there are people who are opposed,” Jeff Edwards, Millsap VFD assistant chief, said. “It’s creating a new tax and I get that. But I would be willing to pay the extra $200, or whatever the cost, for fire protection.”

If annexation is approved by voters, a portion of western Parker County, roughly the area covered by Millsap VFD, would join ESD No. 7, allowing the district to levy a property tax of up to 10 cents per $100 valuation and designating the district responsible for fire protection and emergency medical service to the area.

Currently, Millsap’s only funding comes from the county and donations, and Edwards emphasized the increase in funds that Millsap VFD could receive from the ESD No. 7 board.

“When I started here, we were getting about $800 from the county. The money has increased since then, but because expenses have also increased, we’ve plateaued,” he said. “Now, we’re getting $38,000. If we joined ESD No. 7, I’d estimate a figure of maybe $64,000 to $70,000.”

Edwards emphasized other benefits of the annexation, including Millsap’s relationship with the Greenwood VFD, which is a member of ESD No. 7, and a more secure source of funding.

“The No. 1 thing we’re looking at right now is to stabilize the funding now and in the future,” he said. “And as our tax base grows, we can save and add other necessities.”

In May, volunteers with the fire department began collecting signatures and turned them in to the ESD No. 7 commissioners at a regular meeting in June.

“We’ve looked at more than one option,” Edwards told the crowd Tuesday. “We’ve looked at becoming our own ESD, and we’ve looked at doing nothing. But Parker County is maxed out on sales tax.

“It’s better to react now when we have options than later when we run out of funding.”

Millsap and Cool city residents won’t be affected by the tax, and are not able to vote on the annexation. However, residents outside city limits in the Millsap VFD area will be affected.

A concern brought up during Tuesday’s hearing involved the issuance of funds from the ESD No. 7 board to the Millsap VFD.

“Like they say in Vegas, what happens in Millsap stays in Millsap,” board president Johnie Herbert said. “Any proceeds from the Turkey Dinner or mailed donations will be given directly to the Millsap VFD.”

Board treasurer Bill Sewell said the first order of business, if the annexation passes, would be to develop and secure a contract with Millsap VFD. If approved, the annexation taxes would not affect residents until 2014, when county funding would stop.

“Right now, we don’t have the excess funding to give them yet,” Herbert said. “We’re spending our money on the new [Greenwood VFD station] and our other obiligations.”

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