Officials discuss Emergency Service District

PRESIDIO – A countywide effort is underway to establish an Emergency Service District in the County of Presidio to have fiscal responsibility for both fire and ambulance services.

An Emergency Service District is authorized to provide fire, ambulance and related services within its district. A district can tax, enter into inter-local agreements, take on debt, and other functions of a political subdivision of the State of Texas. There are currently over 300 ESDs within the State of Texas.

“The way it is currently, the county is distributing money to each municipality,” said Jose Portillo, Presidio City Administrator. “ We just want to make sure it is being fairly distributed.” The county allocates $100,000 to the city of Presidio for emergency services, $36,000 to the city of Mar-fa, and Jeff Davis County receives $10,000.

In order to create the district, a county judge must be presented with a petition by at least 100 qualified voters who own taxable property in the district, the petition must be filed to the county clerk, the commissioner’s court must set a place, date and time for a public hearing to consider the petition, a request must be sent to the municipalities within the district, the commissioners court must find the creation of the district feasible, if petition is accepted it will be placed on the November ballot, and then voters decide whether or not to create the district.

“We are open to the concept, and to explore the idea, as long as we don’t degrade the services,” said Marfa City Administrator, Terry Brechtel.

An aspect to this ongoing discussion centers on how the district will be funded. Normally, it is paid through property tax, where an ESD may tax up to $0.10 per $100 of property valuation. It may also be paid for through sales tax, provided an election is held and voters approve. In Texas, 8.25% is the maximum allowed sales tax rate. The state collects 6.25%, leaving 2% available to eligible local jurisdictions, including ESDs.