Grimes County to discuss creation of county-wide Emergency Services District

KBTX News 3 at Ten(Recurring)
Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 8:56 PM CDT
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ANDERSON, Texas (KBTX) -Grimes County Commissioners will meet for its regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday, and one topic of interest is increasing public safety, specifically fire and ambulance service.

Members of the Grimes County Commissioners’ Court will discuss the creation of a new emergency services district that would operate countywide.

If commissioners move forward, residents of the county will vote to decide if they want the ESD or not potentially in May of next year.

Not many specifics are known due to the early steps of the process but advocates for the new district say they would like additional funding to help increase ambulance service in the county, upgrade apparatus and other fire vehicles, upgrade facilities and add paid firefighters and first responders to fill gaps when volunteers are not available.

Michele Gremillion and her husband Richard are two of the original supporters of the ESD that gathered the signatures necessary to add the proposal to Wednesday’s commissioner’s court agenda.

Gremillion says as the county continues to grow so will the emergencies.

“We are a fastly growing county from the south, from the north from really all ends and this is something that we actually believe should have been done several years ago,” said Gremillion. “I believe the time is now to catch up with the progress that’s being made, the growth, huge growth in the county and it’s something that needs to be done now.”

While Grimes County Judge Joe Fauth cannot advocate for or against the ESD he says adding an additional ESD is a conversation the county is willing to have with residents.

“It’s just an awareness discussion for the commissioners to start talking about what is this? Why is this, what is the need, and what’s the benefit? What’s the upside downside?” said Fauth. “As we go along we wanna make sure that we have the public hearings that we give people an opportunity that is for this to speak up and for those that might be against it to speak up.”

Judge Fauth says if approved the additional ESD would not replace or reduce any existing services but add to them.

“It does not consume ESD#1, it stands alone,” said Fauth. “The ESD then would incorporate the rest of Grimes County and the rest of our borders.”

If approved the ESD could impose a tax of up to 10 cents per $100 property valuation. Supporters of the proposed ESD say the extra fire protection would be beneficial for residents in more ways than one.

“There’s a certain amount of financial scalability with a countywide tax base as opposed to several individual ESDs for each volunteer fire department. Fire protection keeps our homeowner’s insurance rates at a lower level,” said Gremillion. “We are hearing that some insurance companies are not even riding homeowners in Grimes County If there’s not a paid fire department. I don’t like taxes any more than anybody, but we should be willing to pay for them in a minimal tax. Otherwise, we’re gonna pay for it in our homeowner’s insurance.”

Gremillion says she understands there may be people in opposition to the ESD and the potential tax increase associated with it.

“Ultimately, our goal is for the entire county to have a voice in whether or not this is something that they want to use as a vehicle to fund their volunteer fire departments and hopefully grow our ambulance service within the county,” said Gremillion. " We recognize that there may be some opposition to this endeavor. It’s change and change is scary.”

The Commissioners of Grimes County meet for Regular Meetings on the first and third Wednesday of each month, beginning at 9:00 a.m., in the Commissioners Courtroom, located in the Grimes County Justice & Business Center, 270 FM 149 W., Anderson, Texas.

Commissioner Court meetings are also live-streamed. Click here for the link.

~KBTX reached out to community members against the ESD but none agreed to go on camera.~