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February 5, 2013

County sets limits

Boundaries approved for proposed Emergency Services District No. 8

Athens — The Henderson County Commissioners Court on Tuesday approved the boundaries for the proposed Emergency Services District No. 8 in the Murchison area.

The commissioners’ vote opened the door for the Murchison ESD to appear on the ballot in a May election. The county will possibly have three ESD propositions up for a vote May 11, with the Baxter and Westside Volunteer Fire Departments also seeking districts. 

ESD elections have become common in the county in recent years because they allow the body to impose a tax to help fund volunteer fire departments to  keep up with the rising cost of equipment and insurance.

The commissioners discussed the Murchison Volunteer Fire Department request during the Jan. 29 meeting, as well as a request from the Baxter Volunteer Fire Department, to set a public hearing concerning setting boundaries for Emergency Services District No. 7 in the Baxter area.

The court took no action because a portion of the proposed maps overlapped. On Tuesday, Precinct 3 Commissioner Ronny Lawrence made a motion to go back to the original map, which placed the disputed area in the Murchison Volunteer Fire Department’s jurisdiction.

Commissioners also voted to set a public hearing for Feb. 26 at 9:40 a.m. concerning whether to accept boundaries for Emergency Services District No. 6 in the Westside Volunteer Fire Department area near Lake Palestine.

In November 2011, voters narrowly defeated Emergency Services District No. 6  by a 49 to 41 count. To call a new election, proponents of the district had to re-start the process and gather the required signatures.

Emergency services districts are political subdivisions of the state entrusted with providing emergency medical and fire services to many unincorporated areas.

A district is allowed to add a fee of up to 10 cents per $100 valuation, in addition to the ad valorem tax charged to property owners in a given district.

In other action, commissioners approved:

• a request from the Henderson County Tax Assessor Collector to refund seven overpaid property taxes totaling $17,000;

• allowing inmate labor to assist in clearing fence rows at the Malakoff Historical Society and Museum;

• payment of 2012 bills totaling $42,971.68; and

• payment of 2013 bills totaling $176,431.95.

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