NTMWD Plant Smart 2024

Emergency Service Districts are essential for Texans’ safety

by | Jul 23, 2020 | Opinion

Most people know that when there is a fire or medical emergency—or a global pandemic—first responders help keep us safe. What may be surprising for many Texans is that many of these first responders are there because of a local emergency services district, or ESD.

As we navigate current economic challenges and budget constraints, it’s imperative that all Texans understand that emergency services districts are essential for all Texans’ safety.

Simply put, an ESD is a political subdivision of the State of Texas, similar to a school district, library district or a hospital district. And, depending on the district, an ESD can provide fire protection, emergency medical services or both.

ESDs are formed by grassroots initiatives that voters, like you, approve at the ballot box to provide reliable funding for fire protection or emergency medical response.

An ESD is not an extension of a state agency or county government—it is an independent governmental entity focused solely on the protection of life and property. Currently, there are around 335 ESDs in Texas.

ESDs directly protect around eight million Texans, as the men and women on the frontlines save numerous lives and make a positive difference in our communities. Along with serving local communities, ESDs often join in a larger effort to combat disasters throughout Texas.

In 2017, when Hurricane Harvey—one of the worst natural disasters Texas has experienced—pummeled through the Texas Coast, ESDs partnered with the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System (TIFMAS) to mobilize a record-breaking firefighter deployment and emergency response.

ESD first responders waded through chest-deep waters and even many who were not on call, still volunteered their time. Above all, the ESDs showed genuine care for the community which they serve.

ESD firefighters and equipment are routinely dispatched to combat wildfires that can cover thousands of acres in the state.

Make no mistake, ESDs are essential in keeping all Texans safe. What is also important to know is that they can typically accomplish outstanding service for about one-third to one-half of what municipalities would spend on the same quality of emergency services.

As our nation faces increased unemployment, collapsed oil prices and a sluggish economy, ESD budgets could be strained.

Under the state constitution, ESDs are limited to 10 cents per $100 of property valuation. At the maximum ESD tax rate, a home valued at $300,000 would pay only $300 a year to know that well-trained and well-equipped first responders will be at the door in minutes when there’s an emergency.

ESDs may also collect sales tax. With likely lower property values and sales tax collections ahead, ESDs will face challenges in maintaining their services at the same level.

I encourage all communities to work with their local and state officials to assure that ESDs continue to have access to adequate funding for first responders, stations and equipment. That way, ESDs can continue to provide the services to protect property and life in the communities they serve and in Texas as a whole.

For more stories like this, see our July 23 issue or subscribe online.

By Mark Jack, is the president of the State Association of Fire and Emergency Services (SAFE-D)

 

NTMWD Plant Smart 2024

0 Comments

Related News

Verses Versus Verses

Verses Versus Verses

If you’re a Baptist from the South, you’re hoping that if there’s a Pearly Gates pop quiz, the question isn’t, “What’s the third verse to any song in the hymnal?” You won’t know the answer. If you’re laughing right now, you know exactly what I’m talking about. In...

read more
Meat and Greet

Meat and Greet

Barbecue may not be the road to world peace, but it’s a start.” – Anthony Bourdain Barbecue is a versatile word. It can refer to an outdoor place to cook meat; to cooking meat; and can also reference a gathering of people for the purpose of serving meat cooked...

read more
Real good eatin’

Real good eatin’

My grandfather called it a “Po Boy Lunch.” That meant we were having leftovers in whatever creative way my grandmother came up with. Recently, I took two biscuits from breakfast and loaded them with smoked brisket, and from the garden, purple onions and jalapeños. A...

read more
Comic Relief

Comic Relief

People use different ways to learn to read. Some folks use the vowels and consonants method. Others memorize how the words look.  I used both, but I had a secret weapon many didn’t know about.  Comic books.  While most kids were having, “Fun with Dick...

read more
35 Texas counties eligible for individual disaster aid

35 Texas counties eligible for individual disaster aid

Residents in a total of 35 Texas counties now qualify for individual disaster assistance following a series of severe storms and flooding that began in late April, The Dallas Morning News reported. “I thank our federal partners and emergency response personnel across...

read more
Texas could face long-term water supply deficit

Texas could face long-term water supply deficit

Texas is facing a reckoning on water that we must address if the state wants to secure its future prosperity. The State Water Plan prepared by the Texas Water Development Board projects that Texas faces a long-term water supply deficit of 6.9 million acre-feet in 50...

read more
Hogging the channels

Hogging the channels

 I have a lot of my grandparents in me. I’m cheap. I also love the Arkansas Razorbacks. Nowhere is this truer than when it comes to radio, television, and an Arkansas game. I grew up listening to free radio and watching free television. So, the idea of paying...

read more
Laundry: There’s more than one way to fold

Laundry: There’s more than one way to fold

You would think that there’s only one way to fold towels. But, you’d be wrong. Growing up in Ashdown, Arkansas, my momma showed me how to fold them, as well as shirts, socks, underpants, and other personal sundries. I assumed that this skillset would carry me all the...

read more
The Lawn Moore

The Lawn Moore

America really is The Land of Opportunity. Even if there’s only one opportunity, and that opportunity is cutting the grass.  Ashdown, Arkansas, was a pretty typical small American town in the 1960s and 1970s.  Kids weren’t just handed things. If we wanted...

read more
A myth understanding

A myth understanding

In the South, we believed with all of our hearts what we were told when we were children. Even if it was wrong. In the 1960s, the RCA color console TV my family had on Beech Street in Ashdown, Arkansas, could make you go blind. It could if you believed what our mom...

read more
Subscribe Love