County steps closer to new fire district

Attorney Derek Gilliland of Nix Patterson law firm speaks to the Gregg County Commissioners Court Monday to provide information about a petition calling for the creation of Emergency Services District No. 3 north of Longview. The new district will raise taxes from citizens in the Judson area to fund a professional fire department.

A date has been set for the public to give their input on the creation of a new emergency services district in Gregg County.

Gregg County commissioners voted Monday to set the hearing on Jan. 14, 2019 at 6 p.m. in the Judson Community Center at 1129 Farm to Market Rd 1844 in Longview.

Gregg County Elections Administrator Kathryn Nealy told commissioners the required number of signatures had been gathered on a petition for the creation of Emergency Services District No.3 in the county. She also said state law requires the posting of a notice about the hearing at least 21 days before it is held. To allow time for the county clerk to create the notice and for the county sheriff to submit it to the newspaper, Nealy said the earliest possible date for the hearing could be Jan. 7. County Judge Bill Stoudt preferred a date of Jan. 14 because it was not so close to the break for Christmas and New Year's holidays.

Derek Gilliland of Nix Patterson law firm appeared before the commissioners on behalf of the petitioners who wish to see the creation of the new district.

“Currently, the area that is proposed to be covered by the ESD is protected with fire services by, completely 100 percent, by a volunteer fire department facility located on Skinner Road with three apparatus that are used to fight fires with volunteer support staff. The ESD would allow for the creation of additional facilities, acquisition of additional equipment and increased manpower to respond to emergencies in that area, Gilliland said.

Gilliland cited rapid growth and development north of Longview as a major motivation for the creation of the new district, as the small volunteer fire department was responsible for protecting a relatively large area.

At least 100 signatures were required to have an election on the creation of the new district; paperwork from Nealy submitted to the court indicated 112 signatures were collected from taxpayers who owned property in the area where the new district is proposed. Also submitted was $150 from the petitioners to cover the costs of the election.

The proposed district will include the area north of the corporate city limits of Longview, from the Gregg County/Harrison County line west to the Gregg County/Upshur County line and north.

ESD No.3 will have the power to levy a tax of no more than 10 cents per $100 of property in the district.

A proposed timeline calls for an election on May 4.

Kilgore News Herald

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