Growing Pflugerville looks for fire department solutions

PFLUGERVILLE (KXAN) — What happens when a city outgrows its fire department? That’s a question Pflugerville is struggling to answer.

Now, the fire department is vying for limited tax dollars — as it tries to keep up with booming population growth.

“When I first moved to Pflugerville the population signs said 785 people,” said Cliff Avery, executive director of the State Association of Fire and Emergency Districts. “That was from the 1980 Census. Now you’ve got 44,000 people and that’s on a bad day.”

Cliff Avery is representing the Pflugerville Fire Department. The Pflugerville Fire Department may be the common name. However, it is technically a county emergency services district — it covers more than Pflugerville.

Now, Avery and other supporters of a new tax measure say the district needs more money — to help with medical response and to keep up with growth.

“We’re seeing those response times for ALS, that ambulance response, grow also,” said Trevor Stokes, Pflugerville Professional Firefighters Association.

The fire department will ask voters for a half-cent sales tax increase.

“The city was a little bit surprised that the ESD decided to go out this coming May with a sales tax election, but it’s not something that we haven’t discussed before,” said Brandon Wade, Pflugerville city manager.

The proposed sales tax wouldn’t apply within the city of Pflugerville. The tax would only apply outside of city limits in the areas that the fire department still serves.

Here is the ballot language:

“THE INCREASE IN THE RATE OF THE LOCAL SALES AND USE TAX IMPOSED BY TRAVIS COUNTY EMERGENCY SERVICES DISTRICT NO. 2 FROM ONE-HALF PERCENT (0.5%) TO ONE PERCENT (1.0%) FOR ALL TERRITORY WITHIN THE DISTRICT EXCEPT THE TERRITORY THAT IS LOCATED WITHIN THE CORPORATE BOUNDARIES OF THE CITY OF PFLUGERVILLE OR THE WELLS BRANCH LIBRARY DISTRICT.”

“The future ranges everything from, I know a county fire department has been talked about, but we’re also talking about a municipal fire department,” Wade said. “But that would be sometime in the future.”

The Pflugerville Community Development Corporation opposes the tax plan because it would max-out the sales tax allowed to be collected in that area. PCDC is also vying for future dollars — and believes this measure would “stifle economic development.”

You can read more about this issue Thursday in the Round Rock, Pflugerville, Hutto edition of Community Impact News– or click here to read the story online.

This story is part of KXAN’s partnership with Community Impact News.

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