You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

New Southeast Travis district would raise taxes for fire protection


Property taxes in the area would rise $115 on average, if voters approve forming the new district.

Without the new district, emergency chief says the district cannot afford to provide fire protection.

Without local fire protection, insurance premiums could rise. Estimate shows $430 a year hike for $200k home.

Southeastern Travis County voters have a choice this spring whether to add a second emergency services district over an existing one — essentially a shortcut to allow taxes to be raised above the legal maximum.

Vote yes and emergency services district property taxes in the area will likely double, from an average of $115 per year to an average of $230. Vote no and there might be no immediate response the next time a house catches on fire.

The existing Emergency Services District 11 provides emergency medical and fire response to about 30,000 people within a large swath of unincorporated Travis County southeast of Austin city limits. It is funded via sales tax and a property tax levy of 10 cents per $100 of value, the maximum allowed by such districts under state law.

But it’s set to lose its single biggest source of revenue — a HOLT CAT supplier on the Interstate 35 frontage road — when the city of Austin annexes that property. Taxes from that facility alone, especially from sales, fund about a third of ESD 11’s emergency operations, district Fire Chief Ken Bailey said.

Without the tax money from the CAT facility, Bailey said he will have no choice but to cut fire protection and leave medical services in place.

“We’ve had a couple of people say, ‘I don’t want my fire protection to go away,’ but at the end of the day, I only have so much revenue,” Bailey said. “Eighty percent of what I do is EMS. If I don’t have a replacement for that revenue, we have to make a choice.”

Without fire protection, other nearby jurisdictions would have to help out if there were fires in the area, likely increasing response time. Homeowners would probably have to pay more for insurance in that case. One Travelers Insurance estimate requested by Bailey showed the owner of a $200,000 home would pay $430 a year more in premiums if it didn’t have fire protection.

Thus, the proposal, from a petition of more than 100 landowners, to create ESD 15, a second emergency services district covering the same area.

Unlike ESD 11, ESD 15 wouldn’t collect sales tax, only property tax. It would have an independent board and the authority to set a tax rate up to the maximum 10 cents per $100 of property value. The additional tax revenue would provide fire protection to the district, likely by contracting with ESD 11 to provide it, according to a presentation to Buda city leaders.

“To the public, it will look like a single agency, but there will be two service districts supporting the agency’s functions,” the presentation said.

ESD 11’s budget for the current year is about $3.4 million, 70 percent of it from sales tax, 27 percent from property tax and 3 percent from fees, according to a presentation in November.

Austin City Council members considered annexing the CAT facility last year. When representatives of ESD 11 raised revenue concerns, council members agreed to hold off for a year so the district could have time to plan.

Early voting for the upcoming election begins Monday. Election Day is May 6.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Politics

Trump's agenda: Approving private projects, including those of allies
Trump's agenda: Approving private projects, including those of allies

Just four days after he was inaugurated, President Donald Trump delivered a clear message that he would use his office to help industry friends and political allies. He signed a Jan. 24 executive order that assured completion of the Dakota Access pipeline, which will transport oil fracked by various companies, including one owned by Oklahoma oilman...
Bloomberg’s next move: $200 million program for mayors
Bloomberg’s next move: $200 million program for mayors

Michael Bloomberg will throw his financial might into helping beleaguered American mayors, creating a $200 million philanthropic program aimed at backing inventive policies at the city level and giving mayors a stronger hand in national politics. Bloomberg intends to announce the initiative Monday in a speech to the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Miami...
Key Democrat agrees with Trump: Obama should have acted on hacks
Key Democrat agrees with Trump: Obama should have acted on hacks

Rep. Adam Schiff and President Donald Trump don't agree on much about Russia's meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections, but they agree on this: former President Barack Obama should have done more to stop Moscow from intervening. Obama made a "very serious mistake" in not doing more about Russia's intervention in the presidential election campaign...
Trump to call for US 'dominance' in global energy production
Trump to call for US 'dominance' in global energy production

President Donald Trump will promote surging U.S. exports of oil and natural gas during a week of events to highlight the country's growing energy dominance. Trump also plans to emphasize that after decades of relying on foreign energy supplies, the U.S. is on the brink of becoming a net exporter of oil, gas, coal and other energy resources. As with...
Can Trump destroy Obama’s legacy?
Can Trump destroy Obama’s legacy?

When the judgment of history comes, former President Barack Obama might have figured he would have plenty to talk about. Among other things, he assumed he could point to his health care program, his sweeping trade deal with Asia, his global climate change accord and his diplomatic opening to Cuba. That was then. Five months after leaving office, Obama...
More Stories