Commissioners hear of ESD 3 proposal
Orange County commissioners recognized an announcement from Emergency Services District 3 in special session this week, which calls for a one-and-a-half cent sales tax election in May.
State law requires commissioners to be informed about the matter in a public forum, however, they are not obligated to approve or reject the proposal. ESD 3 board president Joe Parkhurst, also the county’s Precinct 1 justice of the peace, said that a new law passed which now allows emergency service districts to call for sales and use tax elections.
The district serves areas of Little Cypress with a mostly volunteer department and three paid employees. In addition to covering their own area, district first responder also assist other fire departments.
The area annexed by the city of Orange a few years ago would not be affected by the tax proposal if it passes, Parkhurst said.
“We’re not in an area that is a city, so there is no city tax,” he said. “Because the city of Orange took over 27 percent of our tax base, we’re faced with the problem of being able continue certain services.
The district now charges a little more than 6 percent, and fire districts are limited to 10 cents, he said. It is hoped that if the tax passes, the 6 percent can be lowered or done away with completely. Property taxes could also be lowered, he said, “ … if this blooms as we hope it will.”
“We hope that with people who come through the district and buy, and through the industries that sell, we can generate enough taxes that we will be able to option as we presently are, or even better,” he said.
Industrial sites in the area include a cement company, a carbon plant and the Inland-Orange plant, he said. In other business Monday, coincidentally, a potential burn ban was delayed, however, Emergency Management’s Jeff Kelley speculated the recent wet weather would not last forever.
“In spite of the recent rain, we’re already back in the moderate levels, particularly in the north side of the county,” he said. “So we’re just going to keep an eye on it – the humidity drops and the wind blows and it dries out the vegetation real fast. Looks like we’ve got another little front coming through, which should produce some rain; but after that there’s supposed to be a six- or seven-day period of low humidity and clear skies.”
In other items, Mark Dunn of Bridge City and Bruce Lockett of Vidor were approved as new members of the Orange County Historical Commission, which is devoted to research of local ancestry, history and photographs. Other members are Howard Williams, chairman, Orange; and also of Orange, Florence Craig, John King, Karen Maddux, Hubert and Dorothy Meadows, Jerry Pennington, James Pruter, Walter and Juanita Toronjo, Elizabeth Williams, Granvel Block, Wayne Prouse and Betty Harmon.