— By CHRISTIN COYNE
WILLOW PARK – The mayor of Willow Park said Tuesday the city intends to do what it can to fight the boundaries of the proposed ESD No. 1 annexation of a portion of the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction.
Five mayors of affected cities recently met regarding the potential ESD No. 1 annexation of a large portion of East Parker County, Neverdousky said at a council meeting. “Apparently, it’s welcomed by the city of Aledo. However, three other eastern Parker County cities that don’t have fire service are not necessarily happy that they are being dragged into this.”
Aledo Volunteer Fire Department - following in the recent footsteps of Parker County volunteer fire departments that have sought funding stability through emergency services districts as costs rise and contributions from the county and public decrease - collected signatures from area residents and requested the annexation in November.
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. Municipalities wishing to annex property within an ESD and disannex it from the ESD must compensate the district based on the area’s share of debt, as well as purchase property used to provide service to the disannexed property.
Though there was confusion for several weeks after annexation efforts went public, area municipalities have found that they have no say in the annexation decision. Instead, the issue will be up to affected voters located in both East Parker County and the current boundaries of ESD No. 1. A majority of voters in both areas must approve the ballot questions for the annexation to occur.
All or portions of the cities of Aledo, Annetta, Annetta South and Annetta North are included in the annexation effort, along with portions of the extraterritorial jurisdictions of Willow Park and Fort Worth.
The annexation has some negative implications for the city of Willow Park, Neverdousky told the council. “Number one, the map that was drawn up includes areas that are within our extraterritorial jurisdiction, and that is a problem for us. As the city grows, we need income from those areas to be able to help support our fire department.”
The city has obtained a map of the potentional ESD annexation area, Willow Park Fire Chief Brent Sauble confirmed Wednesday. The lines drawn correspond to current fire service district boundaries, including only areas currently serviced by Aledo VFD and not those served by Willow Park Fire-Rescue, according to Sauble.
However, the area includes a southeast portion of the city’s ETJ, which extends a half mile from city limits, area which the city could annex at a later point.
“It’s something that the mayor should be involved in as opposed to the fire department, who doesn’t know where the ETJ is,” Neverdousky said of the boundaries drawn by the Aledo department.
“Some of those things that are in the ETJ area are industrial companies such as Magellan, such as Republic Waste, and so forth,” Neverdousky said, adding there is a mobile home park in the affected area.
One of the concerns is the district does not plan to provide 24/7 coverage by paid firefighters to the area, Neverdousky said.
“We need to resolve it quickly and if we don’t resolve it quickly, we need to see what other actions we can take,” Neverdousky said.
Sauble said he will presenting additional information to the council at the next meeting.