Two Cent Sales Tax Election Passes in BCESD9
Burnet County Emergency Services District No. 9 (ESD9) and Spicewood VFD-EMS, Inc (SVFD) put a proposition on the November 3rd election ballot: A 2% sales and use tax for purchases made in the district’s coverage area to help fund a plan to bring certified paramedics to the Spicewood Fire Station.
The sales tax ballot proposition was approved by district voters by a margin of approximately 59% to 41%. The election results were canvassed by the district on November 12, 2015, and the canvass report and order can be downloaded here.
Under state law, actual collection of the new 2% sales tax in the district should begin April 1, 2016.
The Texas statewide sales and use tax rate is 6.25%, however local taxing jurisdictions (such as cities, counties, special purpose districts, and other authorities) may impose an additional sales and use tax of up to 2% for a maximum combined rate of 8.25%. In fact, many areas around ESD 9 where Spicewood residents shop already have a maximum sales tax rate of 8.25%, including Marble Falls, Horseshoe Bay, the Spicewood and Briarcliff areas in western Travis County, and the Village of Bee Cave and its surrounding areas. Emergency Service Districts, like ESD 9 which provides Spicewood’s fire, rescue and emergency medical services, are eligible to collect these taxes – and for many rural areas, this is the only additional source of revenue available to them outside of property taxes and fundraising activities.
An additional feature of the sales tax is that it shifts some of the burden of funding from district’s property owners only, to anyone who purchases goods and services in the district coverage area. The BCESD9 district encompasses nearly 12 miles of TX-71, along with a number of recreational areas, and any people travelling through the district purchase food, gasoline, and other items; every taxable purchase they make – whether they live here or not - will help cover the cost of providing emergency services to both residents and visitors.
Today SVFD responds to an average of 30 emergency calls each month. Nearly 80% of those calls are medical in nature. Since January 2014, EMS call volumes (which include motor vehicle accidents) have increased by 50% - a trend that is expected to continue as traffic and property development increase, and the district’s population grows older.
“With respect to providing emergency medical services, one of the greatest challenges we face in our district is response time,” explains Byron Zinn, a Commissioner and President of ESD9. When an EMS call is received, Spicewood VFD and Marble Falls Area EMS are both ‘toned out’. The Spicewood first responders arrive in 8-10 minutes to provide basic life support and on-scene patient care; however, today it takes an average of 20 minutes for certified paramedics with the ambulance to arrive from western Marble Falls. “Should a patient require advanced life support services, life-saving drugs, or any type of intravenous fluid administration, 20 minutes could be too long to wait”, he concluded.
ESD9 estimates the cost to bring full time paramedic coverage to the Spicewood region ranges from $250,000 to $500,000 per year depending on a number of factors, including whether or not ambulance service is housed at the fire station. A recent study conducted on behalf of ESD9 projected that a 2% sales tax in the district would raise approximately $200,000 by 2017 - funds ESD 9 intends to put toward a plan to bring a certified paramedic presence to the Spicewood region.
“Now that the sales tax is voter-approved, we think we can have plans for paramedic services underway by the end of 2016, ” stated Commissioner Zinn.
For more details, download and view the FAQ mailing to Burnet County ESD9 voters here.
BCESD9 Awarded Assistance to Firefighters Grant in National Competition
Burnet County ESD No. 9 was recently notified by federal officials that its Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) application for funding to purchase new self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) for Spicewood volunteer firefighters and which was filed early in December 2014 was selected for award by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Of the approximately $76,000 required to purchase this equipment, 95% will be funded by FEMA and the remaining 5% by BCESD9.
The new SCBA equipment is planned to complement the new pumper-rescue apparatus (see below) and also be fully compatible with similar equipment now in use by neighboring departments in Travis County and in Burnet County ESD No. 6, which serves the Marble Falls surrounding area. Firefighters use SCBA when needed during fire operations for either structure fires or wildfires. This new equipment should be ready for service in Spicewood during September 2015.
Pumper-Rescue Apparatus Purchased by BCESD9
& Put Into Service at Spicewood VFD
A "new" front line pumper-rescue fire apparatus has been put into service at the Spicewood VFD, replacing an outdated 1984 model unit.
The new apparatus is a 2008 Pierce Contender and is a recent purchase by Burnet County ESD No. 9 for use by the Spicewood VFD. The engine (which has only about 20,000 miles on it) formerly was in use at Fort Sam Houston Army base and brings state-of-the-art firefighting-rescue technology as well as increased water and pumping capacity to Spicewood. The unit, which cost approximately $250,000 (including new hoses, fittings, radios, etc.), is the second new apparatus put in service in Spicewood this year with ESD support. See below.
First Responder EMS Unit Purchased by BCESD9
& Put Into Service at Spicewood VFD-EMS
With grant application assistance from PEC, the Spicewood VFD-EMS department received a partial grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) to purchase a First Responder EMS Unit. With the further help of Burnet County ESD No. 9, the department located and BCESD9 was able to purchase a low-mileage 2004 F-250 unit for the department's use. Once fully-outfitted with needed emergency equipment, etc., the vehicle was put in service in March 2015 to serve the residents of and visitors to the Burnet County ESD No. 9 service area in Spicewood with Basic Life Support (BLS) services.