To improve fire protection, the Board of Commissioners of Montgomery County Emergency Services District No. 11 (Splendora) is asking for voter approval of an additional half-penny sales tax in the unincorporated areas of the fire district. During a special meeting on Thursday, February 27, 2014 board members voted to call the sales tax election for May 10, 2014.
Montgomery County ESD No. 11 provides fire protection and emergency medical first response to its 78 square mile fire district in northeastern Montgomery County. It staffs and equips the fire department which operates as a combination fire department employing part time career firefighters and volunteer firefighters.
Fire Chief Jeff Taylor stated that the department plans to use the additional sales tax revenue to add additional career firefighter personnel to provide round-the-clock protection while reducing emergency response times. The additional sales tax revenue would also be utilized to update its aging fire apparatus fleet and equipment.
Presently, Montgomery County ESD #11 in Splendora employs part time career firefighters which respond from Fire Station 161 located at 14088 Old Hwy. 59 North in Splendora. Taylor praised the professionalism of both its career and volunteer firefighters. “But, 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.”
The Texas Constitution limits the property tax that emergency service districts collect to ten cents per $100 of property value. 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.
A sales tax has the advantage of reducing the district’s reliance on property taxes, and provides a more reliable source of revenue for fire and medical protection in years when property values don’t keep up with the demand for service.
Other Texas emergency services districts have found that a sales tax distributes the tax burden more fairly, collecting from travelers and tourists who enjoy fire and emergency medical protection while they’re in the fire district, but who don’t pay property tax.