As demand for fire and ambulance services increase, many communities are creating Emergency Services Districts (ESDs). There are currently 288 ESDs in Texas.
The Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Relations has been instructed to review the statutory authority of the ESDs and assess whether the consolidation of ESDs under one statute would improve uniformity and provision of fire and emergency services through these districts.
There are two different statutes for the organization and operation of ESDs (Chapter 775 and Chapter 776, Health and Safety Code). Currently, 258 districts operate under Chapter 775; 18 operate under Chapter 776; and 12 are unknown.
Chapter 775 provides more flexibility and authority including:
1) Ability to merge with another ESD subject to an election
2) Ability to adopt and enforce a fire code
3) Ability to charge reasonable fees
4) Ability of county auditor to conduct audit
5) Ability to create fire marshal in counties without a fire marshal
6) Ability to provide hazardous materials services
The IGR Committee will consider a proposal to convert all Chapter 776 Districts to Chapter 775 Districts with these additional powers. At present, there are Chapter 776 Districts, or unknown Districts, in the following counties:
1) Chapter 776: Brewster, Burnet, Comal, Gaines, Gonzales, Harrison, Jeff Davis, Llano, Leon
2) Unknown Districts: Blanco, Hamilton, Hardin, Hudspeth, Kaufman, Kimble, Nacogdoches, Parker, Van Zandt, Willacy.
If you have concerns about the conversion of these districts or have any thoughts on ESDs, please send me your comments before Oct. 1.
For more information, please call me at 1-800-733-0699.