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Last updateTue, 30 Sep 2014 7pm

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COUNCIL GIVES SABINE VFD THUMBS UP ON ESD

The Sabine Volunteer Fire Department moved one step closer to creating Gregg County’s second Emergency Services District with taxing authority after the Gladewater City Council voted Thursday to approve a resolution calling for a November vote on the issue.

Like many volunteer fire departments, Sabine VFD has operated on donations from the community as well as fundraisers, according to Chief Richard Sisk, who addressed the city council and asked for a favorable vote.

Had Gladewater not approved the resolution, Sabine VFD’s efforts would have died Thursday night. To take the issue to the voters, every entity – Gladewater, Kilgore, Clarksville City and the Gregg County Commissioners’ Court has to give it the thumbs up. County commissioners will meet Monday at a Liberty City public hearing to listen to the pros and cons of the effort. The City of Kilgore will be the last to vote on the measure. Clarksville City has already said yes.

Gregg County ESD No. 2 would levy a tax of 5 cents per $100 valuation, Sisk told council members. Currently Sabine VFD receives about $60,000 annually in donations. The ESD, if created, would generate an estimated annual budget of $350,000.

The boundaries of the proposed district extends from one mile south of Texas 31 to Arrow Creek off Texas 135, which would represent the northern line of the district. Sisk said the district would extend from the Smith County line to Kilgore and the Sabine River.

Gladewater has plans to annex land that falls in the proposed ESD and that gave council members reason to pause. The council was in favor of the ESD, but they did not want to jeopardize the city’s future expansion.

After more than an hour of discussion,  including two failed votes - one for and one against  - the council chose to look at the need for protection and safety for residents living in its (ETJ) extraterritorial jurisdictions and chose to favor the resolution, 5-0.

Read next week’s Gladewater Mirror to find out how the council came to its decision and what it could mean to Gladewater taxpayers.