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Brazos County Emergency Districts No. 1 and No. 2 ask voters to approve tax increase

Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 10:21 AM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Voters who live in north and south Brazos County have a decision to make at the polls. Emergency Services District 1 and District 2 Volunteer Fire Departments are both proposing a tax increase in an effort to generate funds to hire paid firefighters.

Currently District No. 2 is completely funded by property taxes. District 2 voters are being asked to consider a new sales tax with the hopes of reducing property taxes and to transfer some of the financial strain to visitors who work and shop in the district.

“So the goal is to shift some of the burden from property owners to the people that do business and travel through the district in the form of a sales tax” said Joe Boyd, Brazos County District 2 Fire Chief.

Both districts are currently fully staffed by volunteers.

“Nobody gets paid a dime to be at this station or any other stations in our area, so every time a call comes any of our volunteers may be at work or somewhere they can’t get away from to come and respond to a call” said Boyd.

In south Brazos County District 1 commissioner Taylor Gibson says their district faces similar challenges. District 1 is proposing a property tax cap of 10 cents per $100 in property value. Currently the district is limited at three cents per $100.

“We need an additional two-three cents in order to provide enough funding to do a payroll for the new duty crew” said Gibson. “People do not run to be volunteers and put out fires in their free time like they used to."

Both districts say they’re blessed to have a pool of volunteers, however there are times when staff is unavailable and the lack of funding is a risk to public safety.

About 26,000 residents are serviced by the two districts that cover about 243 square miles of Brazos County. Only voters registered in these two emergency districts will see the proposition on their ballots.

Copyright 2020 KBTX. All rights reserved.

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