Texas Election Day: Changes to EMS & Fire services on the ballot for Pflugerville residents

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — City of Pflugerville residents and those in its extraterritorial jurisdiction will soon see a Fire and EMS annexation proposition on their ballot.

The November election item will decide how EMS and Fire services will operate and be funded. It comes after Travis County ESD No. 2 said it needs more money to serve residents.

“It’s mind boggling that we’ve been going through this for a year with the City of Pflugerville,” said Mike Bessner, ESD No. 2 Commissioner.

Bessner is pushing for a yes on both of Pflugerville Propositions.

“This is an annexation election from ESD 17,” said Bessner.

Proposition A would add geographic boundaries of the City of Pflugerville located in Travis County Emergency Service District No. 2 to Travis County Emergency Services District No. 17.  

According to the City of Pflugerville website, those districts would share the outstanding debts and taxes of the Travis County Emergency Services District No. 17, if it is added to the district.  

These propositions would create a tax increase.

“The ESD No. 17 tax rate is set at 4.5% for the next year,” said Bessner.

The State of Texas caps at $.10 per $100 in valuation for ESD services. At 4.5%, the tax increase comes out to about $135 a year for the average $300,000 homeowner.

“Make no mistake, what’s underlying all of this is affordability. That is the crutch right here,” said council member Rudy Metayer.

If the ballot item doesn’t pass, this changes things. Metayer says a for-profit private emergency services company could bridge the gap instead.

The private ambulance service is a transition gap to a public option, including the possibility of a city owned EMS service, according to Metayer.

This is a service Pflugerville council members are currently negotiating with which promises response times in eight minutes instead of 10.

Commissioner Bessner argues this for-profit service wouldn’t be able to meet that mark. If it doesn’t, the agency would be fined by the City of Pflugerville.

“Ultimately, there is a working project or some sort of overlay for the ESD to be a city-owned department. That’s what makes sense,” said Metayer.

Metayer says ESD’s are a time of the past and built for rural communities not large cities like Pflugerville. He also says there wouldn’t be a tax increase to citizens for the private ambulance service.

“From the city’s perspective, there are options to mitigate the taxing and the funding hurt to the citizen,” said Metayer.

On Tuesday, Pflugerville residents will have the chance to decide on the proposition.

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