HUDSON — The Hudson City Council approved a resolution in support of the Emergency Services District being proposed at its regular council meeting Thursday.
The resolution does not place the ESD on the ballot and does not ensure its success in a vote. It still has to be approved by the Angelina County Commissioners.
The ESD is being suggested by the Hudson Volunteer Fire Department and would provide fire, rescue and advanced life support to the area of Hudson currently included in the Hudson Independent School District. It also would include up to a 10 cent per $100 valuation added tax.
“First of all, this is a 10 cent tax on a hundred — a tenth of a percent tax, not a 10% tax,” said Jeff Barker, president of the HVFD. “I wouldn’t even know what to do with the money from a 10% tax. I couldn’t imagine.”
An ESD board would be appointed by the county commissioners to determine the actual tax rate and approve final budgets, meaning the actual tax rate could be lower, and Barker said he expects it to be.
Also, the money that has been coming from the county and the city of Hudson would not be accepted by the department. Instead, they’d rely on the taxes and whatever grants they could get, Barker said.
“Right now, everyone knows what the city gives us,” he said. “The county gives us less than $10,000 a year. Right now, our working budget mostly comes from the city and from fundraisers. ... Our members also do very well at grants — that’s not going to change.”
The department hopes to be able to use some funds from those taxes to bring in a consultant that will help them improve their Insurance Service Office rating. That will cost about $20,000 but could reduce the cost of homeowners insurance for those living under the ESD, Barker said.
“With the budget we have right now, we can’t do that. We’re scraping by,” he said.
If the department goes down 2 points on the ISO rating, that could result in $100 a year saved in home insurance costs for a $100,000 home, Barker told the council members. He said he’s sure they could do that, if not more.
The fire department would also only be paying for a part-time position to handle the administrative stuff and a couple full-time firefighters — no fire chief or position of power, as those would still be voluntary, he said.
The council also began instituting time for public comment for individual agenda items. People wishing to speak will be able to do so for three minutes at the start of each new item.