Friday, June 21, 2024

Denton County Commissioners vote to create new emergency services district

The Denton County Commissioners Court voted unanimously Tuesday morning to approve the creation of a new Emergency Services District to serve southern Denton County.

Denton County ESD No. 1, formerly known as the Argyle Fire District, provides fire and emergency medical services for the communities of Argyle, Bartonville, Copper Canyon, Corral City and Northlake, as well as nearby unincorporated Denton County. It also contracts with Lantana. Following the indictment of longtime chief Mac Hohenberger on federal embezzlement charges, new ESD officials uncovered a mismanaged budget that left the district with a huge budget deficit this year.

Part of the district’s financial problem is that it is providing more services than it can afford, district officials said in an interview earlier this summer.

“Think of the ESD as being set up for fire protection,” Fire Chief Ricky Vaughan said. “That was the intent when it was set up, a governmental funding source for fire protection. The challenge is, we also provide ambulance services. That’s an additional cost, and the ESD isn’t set up for both.”

Vaughan and ESD Board President Sheldon Gilbert explained that the district is not allowed to tax more than 10 cents per $100 valuation, but that’s not enough to cover the budget.

“We’re trying to run a 13- to 15-cent department on a 9-cent tax,” Gilbert said.

“We can’t continue to operate on a 9-cent budget,” Vaughan added. “We can’t afford to do both … so we have got to look at a separate taxing entity.”

Denton County ESD No. 2 map

So the ESD sought for the county to create a new entity, called Denton County Emergency Services District No. 2, to fund EMS/ambulance services. The current Denton County ESD No. 1 would then only provide fire protection service.

The towns of Argyle, Bartonville, Copper Canyon, Corral City and Northlake, and the city of Denton have recently passed resolutions acknowledging and consenting to the proposed creation of the ESD No. 2. On Tuesday, the commissioners court found ESD No. 2 to be “feasible and will promote the public safety, welfare, health and convenience” of residents of the proposed district and granted the petition for an election, according to a news release from the ESD No. 1. The proposal will be on the November election ballot for voters within the proposed district’s boundaries, which includes the above listed communities and Lantana, which will also consider joining the ESD No. 1.

Mark Smith
Mark Smith
Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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