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November 5, 2012

Millsap VFD firefighters explain ballot proposition

MILLSAP — By CHRISTIN COYNE

MILLSAP – Firefighters with Millsap VFD say some rumors surrounding the ongoing ESD No. 7 annexation election simply aren’t true.

If annexation passes, Millsap VFD will continue providing fire protection to the area, firefighters assured voters in a statement signed by nine current Millsap VFD volunteers, including fire chief Neal Doss and assistant chief Jeff Edwards.

Some community members have been falsely stating that Greenwood VFD will be taking over fire protection in the area if the Millsap fire protection area is annexed, firefighters say.

That is not the case, the department stated.

“The fact is the Millsap VFD and a group of informed residents approached the ESD asking them to consider allowing us to join them,” members of the department wrote. “They agreed and spent several thousand dollars to allow us the right to be able to vote on this annexation.”

If voters approve annexation, tax money collected by ESD No. 7 will provide stable funding for Millsap VFD, as they currently do Greenwood VFD, according to the department.

“We will both act as independent fire departments that are utilizing the same funding source,” the statement read.

Department members also noted that the district does not need to expand to pay for a new fire station housing Greenwood VFD and Millsap-area tax dollars will be returning to the Millsap department for coverage in that area.

“The new Greenwood Fire Station was planned for and financed months before we approached them about annexing us into the ESD,” the volunteers stated. “We will not be paying for the new fire station.”

For annexation to occur, voters in the Millsap fire coverage area as well as voters located in current ESD No. 7 boundaries must approve both Propositions 1 and 2 on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Because the emergency services district would cover only unincorporated areas of Parker County if annexation is passed by voters, residents of Millsap, Cool and Mineral Wells can’t vote on the issue and property within city limits can’t be taxed by the district.

According to state law, emergency services districts are responsible for fire protection and emergency services to the area and can levy a tax of up to 10 cents per $100 valuation. The current ESD No. 7 tax rate is 8.5 cents per $100 valuation.

In addition to providing stable funding for the Millsap VFD to grow into the future, officials with Millsap VFD say they hope to begin providing medical first responder services to bridge the gap between the arrival of an ambulance when emergency medical services are needed. The department can’t currently fund first responder services relying solely on funding from the county and donations.

Greenwood VFD currently has a first responder program. About half of Greenwood VFD’s calls are medical calls, according to officials.

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