How the Upcoming Election Will Affect Your Local Fire Department

How the Upcoming Election Will Affect Your Local Fire Department

October 18 2023

On November 7, 2023, a Joint General and Special Election will be held in Harris County that will include state constitutional amendments and local elections, including Proposition A that will have a direct impact on Harris County ESD No. 48 Fire Department - your local fire department. Whether you are an avid voter or you have never been to the polls before, registered voters are encouraged to take notice for this election and show up at the polls to support your local firefighters and EMTs so they can most effectively support you, among many other important issues on the ballot. 

What is my local fire department?

Harris County ESD No. 48 (HCESD 48) serves over 150,000 people in a 29 square-mile portion of the greater Katy area 25 miles west of Houston. HCESD 48 as a full service, 24/7 combination fire department that provides fire suppression and prevention services, emergency medical services (EMS), technical rescue, hazardous materials (HAZMAT) response, emergency management, and fire and life safety education to the citizens of its territory. 

What is Proposition A?

On the sample ballot for your area, Proposition A is defined as follows:

"Approving the ad valorem tax rate of $0.10 per $100 valuation in Harris County Emergency Services District No. 48 for the current year, a rate that is $0.01912 higher per $100 valuation than the voter-approval tax rate of Harris County Emergency Services District No. 48, for the purpose of maintaining fire protection and rescue services. Last year, the ad valorem tax rate in Harris County Emergency Services District No. 48 was $0.086911 per $100 valuation."

This means that a property owner within HCESD 48's territory will pay an additional $13.09 per $100,000 on their home, meaning that a home valued at $300,000 will pay no more than an additional $40 per year. 

What would that $40 per homeowner cover, and why does it matter?

Revenue from your taxes will provide funding for ALS (advanced life support) and ambulance transport services within the ESD, along with offsetting costs of fire protection services. These costs include:
  • Paying fire fighter personnel
  • Firefighter gear
  • Paramedics and other EMS personnel
  • Professional training
  • Apparatuses (ambulances, firetrucks, boosters, rescue boats, and support vehicles)
  • Medical equipment
  • Facilities
  • Community outreach and education
  • Administration
  • Other support services to help make our community safe

As the population in the region continues to rise, so does the call volume for your local fire department. HCESD 48 has seen a sharp uptick in emergency call volume over the last four years, with 15,000 calls in 2022 compared to 10,419 in 2019. Much like a personal vehicle, firetrucks and ambulances (apparatuses) plus other essential gear incur wear and tear, resulting in the need for repairs and ultimately, replacement. And the cost for necessary, life-saving equipment used by your local fire department, including personal protective equipment (PPE), continues to rise. 

Life-saving equipment must be maintained in good, working order to be effective when it matters most. According to HCESD 48, the cost for a fully-equipped ladder truck has doubled since 2015, with a staggering price of $2,000,000. A single ambulance costs $287,000, plus another $100,000 on average for EMS equipment on each ambulance. 

What will happen if Proposition A does NOT pass?

If the proposition does not pass, the property tax rate would decrease from $0.10/$100 valuation to $0.080880/$100, which is a total revenue loss of $4,807,112 for the District to maintain fire protection and rescue services. Ultimately, this reduction in funding could affect emergency response times. By voting in favor of Proposition A, you can help ensure that your emergency responders have the resources they need to provide the best care possible.

When and where can I vote?

Early voting for the Joint General and Special Election will take place from October 23 through November 3, with Election Day on November 7, 2023. Visit the Harris Votes website to learn more about Proposition A and other important issues on the ballot, plus Election Day voting centers and much more. 

go to Harris votes here

Your local fire department has been there for you. Now, it's time to show up at the polls for them. Share this important information with your neighbors. Remember, every vote counts!

By Tiffany Krenek, My Neighborhood News 

Tiffany Krenek has been on the My Neighborhood News team since August 2021. She is passionate about curating and sharing content that enriches the lives of our readers in a personal, meaningful way. A loving mother and wife, Tiffany and her family live in the West Houston/Cypress region.

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