By KAROLYN GEPHART
Two petitions from ETJs in Pearland will be the topics for a public hearing by the Brazoria County Commissioner’s Court in Angleton Tuesday, Aug. 14 at 9 a.m.
The petitions are requesting the creation of new emergency services districts (ESDs) and were filed by residents in the Pearland area ETJs.
After the hearing, the City of Pearland will consider consenting to the creation of each new ESDs at its regular city council meeting on Monday, Aug. 27.
Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) are provided by the city to all areas within the city limits and historically also provided Fire and EMS to the areas outside the city limits (ETJ). The current annual net cost to operate the Pearland Fire Department is $16 million/year, paid for predominantly by City of Pearland residents and business property taxes and sales tax revenues.
City officials report the those living outside the city limits have received these services without paying property taxes to the city. As population numbers grow both within the city limits and in the ETJ areas outside the city, officials want residents benefiting from the Services to fund a share of the cost.
The Pearland City Council has indicated they will be unwilling in the future to continue to provide Fire and EMS services to the areas outside the city at no cost.
The city has four Municipal Utility Districts (MUD) that pay for fire services or have a strategic partnership agreement for future incorporation to the City of Pearland, which includes MUDs 6, 16, 21 and 22.
The petitions filed state that the new emergency services district that is created will pay for coverage.
According to city officials, emergency services district is a governmental special district under Texas state law similar to a school district, created to provide fire and emergency medical protection to its residents. ESDs are a way to levy and collect property taxes to pay for fire and EMS services within the district.
ESD #3 levies the maximum 10 cent property tax covering the area and is the nearest ESD to Pearland.
After an ESD is approved by voters in one or both of the new areas, the Brazoria County Commissioners will appoint directors to operate the ESD as a new governmental body. The ESD contracts for services, which could be from the City of Pearland or other agencies.
“The City of Pearland can continue to provide our high-quality complete fire services into our ETJ, but only if there is commensurate payment for that service, similar to what is applicable in the city limits,” City Manager Clay Pearson said. “With the current situation, it’s unfair to the City of Pearland residents and businesses from a financial and demand perspective to share the services that are available.”