Bastrop County wants to raise taxes to pay for new fire station

Five Points Volunteer Fire Department.

BASTROP COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — As more people continue to move to Bastrop County, the need for emergency services is also on the rise. On Saturday’s ballot, Bastrop County officials are asking residents in Bastrop County Emergency Services District No. 1. to pass a 1.5 percent sales tax increase to help fund a new fire station. In case of an emergency, you want first responders to get to you as fast as possible; firefighters in Bastrop County say to do that, they need a sales tax increase to pay for a new fire station.

If there is a car crash on State Highway 71 and FM 1209, the closest fire station is several miles away. Andrew Vinklarek is one of six full-time firefighters with the Bastrop County ESD No. 1.

“Response from there to this area is anywhere from nine to 10 minutes. If we run further down toward the high school we’re looking at another two to three minutes added onto that,” explains Vinklarek.

Firefighters say they respond to accidents near SH 71 and FM 1209 10-20 times a week. Having a fire station closer to this part of SH 71 they say would shorten their response time.

“It’s very critical, especially if someone’s inside that needs to be rescued. Those 2-3 minutes could be the time it takes us to get around traffic,” says Vinklarek.

Money from the proposed sales tax would not only help pay for a new fire department but allow the County to hire more firefighters and also upgrade equipment.

David Gahagan is the President of Bastrop County ESD No. 1. He says, “Bastrop County has seen a 30 percent population growth since 2000. We in the last two years have seen a 30 percent growth in the calls we’re making.”

Currently, three fire departments (Bluebonnet, Five Points and 3-N-1) respond to more than 1,000 calls a year in southwestern Bastrop County. That’s up almost 800 calls since 2012.

The proposed sales tax increase would increase the County’s 6.75 percent sales tax to 8.25 percent which is the maximum rate allowed by state law. This would only affect people who live in the area serviced by Bastrop County ESD No. 1. 

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