As unincorporated northeast Montgomery County voters go to the polls Saturday, those directly involved in providing emergency services are hoping they’ll say “yes” to the half-penny sales tax increase on the ballot. If approved, funds from the increase will reduce the district’s reliance on property taxes, and assist fire and medical in improving everything from vital equipment and manpower, to response times on the ever increasing number of calls.
To put the half-penny tax into perspective, if a consumer spends $100, the added tax would only be 50 cents.
Montgomery County ESD #11 covers 78 square miles and is currently staffed by part-time career firefighters and volunteers. The increase would also fund additional professional firefighters to provide 24/7 staffing. Fire Chief Jeff Taylor praised the outstanding efforts of those who now staff station 161 in Splendora, saying they have done the best with what they have, but he says the increased staffing will result in faster emergency response times, and that should matter to everyone.
“In an emergency, minutes count,” Chief Taylor said. “The number one priority in our district is reducing emergency response times. The quicker we can respond to an emergency improves our chances on saving lives and property.”
Because the Texas Constitution limits the property tax that emergency service districts collect to 10 cents per $100 of property value. As the ESD #11 Board recently explained, “this means if you own a home valued at $120,000 you pay $120 a year – $10 a month – to know that well trained, well-equipped firefighters will arrive in minutes to help in an emergency. “
The Board also points out the tiny sales tax increase will ease the burden on residents because those passing through the area and tourists who may visit the area, and may need the local emergency services, will also contribute to the funding.
Early voting has ceased, and those registered to vote who live in ESD #11 and have not voted can do so on Saturday.
Editorial note: We at MCPR have spent the last decade responding to the same emergencies as the men and women who provide emergency services in ESD #11. We have seen the increase in calls, not only from an increase in population in and around the area, but from extreme drought conditions that left resources depleted throughout the area. The increase is so small, consumers will not notice it. We believe those resisting the increase are simply frightened by the term “tax increase” and need to remember it’s only half a penny. MCPR supports ESD #11 in requesting those eligible to vote in the election make the effort to do so, and vote yes on the half-penny tax. You never know when it may be your family who has an emergency and you’ll want someone there as quickly as possible with the best equipment available. Please vote for this increase!