By MARY RAINWATER
The Anderson County Commissioners Court took action on a petition for the creation of an Emergency Service District during its regular meeting Monday, setting a public hearing on the petition for Oct. 15.
Eddie Crockett, chief of the Tennessee Colony Volunteer Fire Department spoke to commissioners about the proposed ESD, which would include the coverage areas of Tennessee Colony VFD, Westside VFD and the Bethel-Cayuga VFD.
“The taxing district, formed only by voter approval, would be overseen by a five-member board/commission appointed by the county commissioners court,” Crockett said. “The county commissioners would no longer support the department financially, but funding would come from taxpayers for training, equipment and ESD operations.”
Monday’s action was just one of the first steps in the process for getting the matter on a ballot, with the next step being a public hearing set by commissioners to be held at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 15.
The three VFDs have already obtained the required 300 signatures needed in order to get the issue on the ballot and have submitted that petition to the county judge. The petitioners on the list were verified by the Anderson County Appraisal District and the county election department.
Crockett reported that a series of community meetings — about two per VFD — would be held after the petition hearing in order to inform the public about the ESD prior to the election.
“We really want to educate the community about this,” Crockett said. “I think that was a mistake we made when we had tried to do this before.”
The big question, though, was when the issue could be put on a ballot, as the law states that the election must be held during a general election.
The upcoming Nov. 5 constitutional amendment election was discussed, but the public hearing would occur just one week prior to the start of early voting for that election, not allowing adequate time for the VFDs to inform the public.
The next general election, county election clerk Casey Brown said, would not be until November of 2014 – over a year from now. County Tax Assessor Collector Teri Garvey also pointed out that, if the election was not held until that time, then it would 2016 before the ESD began seeing funds.
“We are having problems now — we are losing volunteers and can’t get some of our equipment certified due to financial restraints,” Crockett said, agreeing that they should go ahead with the petition hearing and get the process started.
Also on Monday, commissioners:
• APPROVED minutes of July 22 and Aug. 12 meetings.
• APPROVED Budget Amendment 17, bills and utility crossing county roads for Precincts 2 and 4.
• APPROVED consolidating Anderson County polling locations from 22 locations to 14 for the Constitutional Amendment Election to be held Nov. 5.
• APPROVED juror reimbursements for 2013-14, keeping them the same as in 2012-13 — $6 for appearing, $6 for the first day served and $40 a day from the second day on.
• APPROVED the Anderson County Juvenile Detention Center’s budget of $230,000 as presented by Emily Lane, chief juvenile probation officer.
• APPROVED the SAVNS (Statewide Automated Victim Notification Service) Maintenance Contract between the Office of the Attorney General and Anderson County.
• APPROVED the R-10 Service Agreement and renewal with Appriss regarding the SAVNS/VINE Grant.
• APPROVED the Client Services contract between the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and Anderson County for child welfare services.
• DISCUSSED pricing to replace a two-channel recording system in the County Courtroom and agreed to bring the issue back at a later meeting after more research has been done.
• APPROVED declaring a truck flat-bed as surplus equipment from Precinct 4 Road and Bridge Department to sell at auction.
• TOOK NO ACTION after meeting in Executive Session to discuss economic development negotiations.
• TABLED District Judges’ Order setting salaries for county auditor’s office and court reporters and order that they be paid.
Mary Rainwater may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com