By CHRISTIN COYNE
Parker County residents to the west and south of Weatherford have an opportunity to choose the direction of fire service in their neighborhoods Saturday.
Both ESD No. 7, which currently covers western Parker County including Greenwood, Millsap and Garner areas, and ESD No. 6, which currently covers southern Parker County, including the Spring Creek, Western Lake Estates, Horseshoe Bend and Cresson areas, have issues on the ballot relating to the annexation of areas abutting their districts.
Residents of each area proposed to be annexed, as well as those within the district boundaries, will be able to vote on the respective annexation issue. If voters in both the proposed annexing and annexed areas approve the annexation, the areas will become part of the ESDs, which can levy a property tax of up to 10 cents per $100 valuation and, by state law, are responsible for providing fire and emergency services coverage.
In addition to voting on annexation itself, voters will also be asked to vote for or against the proposed annexed area assuming its proportionate share of the ESD’s outstanding debts and taxes.
Both ESDs have stated that they already serve the respective areas that are up for annexation and often respond to calls in the affected neighborhoods.
However, the City of Weatherford disputes that the ESDs are the primary fire department for the areas. Parker County also confirmed that Weatherford has a contract with the county to respond to fire department calls in those locations.
Under current state law, it could cost the city if and when the city decides to annex land inside an ESD, making the future expansion of Weatherford an issue, as well.
The entire area that ESD No. 7 is seeking to annex is also within the city’s ETJ and, according to information provided by the City of Weatherford, almost all of the area up for annexation by ESD No. 6 is within the city’s ETJ, as well.