Boonsville voters pass ESD No. 2

By Brian Knox | Published Saturday, November 10, 2018
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Fifteen years after a proposition to create an Emergency Services District in the Boonsville area failed by just a handful of votes, voters Tuesday approved Wise County ESD No. 2.

According to unofficial numbers, the proposition passed by a vote of 285 to 135, or 68 to 32 percent.

Boonsville/Balsora Volunteer Fire Department Safety Officer, and former chief, Dennis Penney has been among those working for years to try to pass an ESD election in the area and was pleased with Tuesday’s results.

“It failed by three votes in 2003, and we tried again in 2005, but there was so much negativity,” that it never made it to the ballot that year, he said.

The difference this year was better information, he said.

“Some of it was demographic change. A lot of people against it last time listened to some mistruths. But they came around this time,” he said.

An ESD levies an ad valorem tax, up to 10 cents per $100 property valuation, on everyone who owns property within the district. The taxes cover the cost of upkeep and staff for the fire department and other emergency services.

When this ESD is established, it will include 65 square miles in the southwest corner of the county, which is primarily in the Boonsville/Balsora fire district. The estimated property value is $400 million, which would garner $40,000 with a 1-cent tax, according to information shared at a public hearing earlier this year.

Penney said the next step would be to provide county commissioners with names of people willing to serve on a five-person board of directors. He said he would like to see Wise County ESD No. 2 modeled after Parker County ESD No. 1, which started in Springtown in 1997.

He added community support for the fire department made the vote a success.

“So many volunteer fire departments think they own the fire department, but our department realizes that the department belongs to the community. Our community realizes that and stepped up for the fire department,” Penney said.

This will be the second ESD in the county after Wise County ESD No. 1 in the Boyd area.

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