Smith County Emergency Services District lines drawn

Published on Tuesday, 17 June 2014 12:22 - Written by

BY ADAM RUSSELL

arussell@tylerpaper.com

Commissioners approved maps creating district lines for Emergency Services Districts No. 1 and No. 2 Tuesday.

ESD No. 1 includes Lindale Fire Department and collected less than 6 cents per $100 valuation, or $639,000, in 2012.

ESD No. 2 includes Arp, Bullard, Chapel Hill, Dixie, Flint-Gresham, Jackson Heights, Noonday, Red Springs, Troup, Whitehouse and Winona volunteer fire departments and collected more than $4 million from taxpayers in 2012 based on a property tax rate of 8.46 cents per $100 valuation.

Two map plans were created for ESD No. 2 because three of five current board members would be in the same district on the initial map plan proposed by the consulting firm tasked with drawing the lines within federal guidelines.

Map No. 1, the map approved by commissioners, placed board president Randy Melton, treasurer Bill Bellenfant and Robert Dear in the same district based on their home addresses.

Map No. 2 would have put Melton and Dear in the same district.

The maps are drawn proportionally based on voting-age population.

The maps were approved to add the 10 positions to November ballots. The two five-member boards would be elected to four-year terms. Members would then draw lots to decide which three members would serve four-year terms and which two would have to run again in two years to keep the terms staggered in the future.

Smith County will become the first county in the state making emergency service board positions elected. Oversight and board appointment powers rest with county commissioners courts by state law.

But a local law was passed during the 2013 Legislative Session making the five-member boards elected bodies.

Supporters believed members of any governmental body that taxes residents should be answerable via election. Opponents said making the boards elected positions cost taxpayers and reduce the pool of residents willing to serve.