WCESD #4 adopts tax rate, sets town hall meeting


By Christine Bolaños

Commissioners of the Williamson County Emergency Services District #4 adopted a 10 cent tax rate per $100 property valuation for the 2015-16 fiscal year. With two commissioners, Sandra Taylor and Todd Jackson, absent from the meeting, all votes were 3-0. Two community members attended the regular board meeting Tuesday, but no one addressed commissioners during public comments.

Commissioners also adopted the 2015-2016 operating budget. Updates to the administration part of the proposed budget include a $40 increase for postage and delivery, a $484.56 increase for Williamson County Appraisal District fees, a $100 increase on the Williamson County tax collection fee and $1,600 for fire station maintenance. This item was not included in the previous two budget drafts so there was no increase.

Insurance related increases include $668.87 for general/management liability, a new $250 ESD treasurer bond, a $244 increase for property and portable equipment, a $156 increase for vehicles, a $1,548.08 increase for workers compensation and a $171 increase for accident and sickness.

Fire Chief Anthony Lincoln gave commissioners an update on the revised Strategic Plan, though he advised, it is still in draft form.

“The content is what I’m after. We’ve been working on this. It was actually put together in 2012 and we’ve been working off of the same document … updating information,” Lincoln said.

He said the document includes the history of the Liberty Hill Fire Department, demographics, the Everyone Goes Home safety initiative program, fire service goals, organizational expectations: what fire fighters owe residents, each other and themselves, among other things.

“It had a big message that I want our staff to be able to support and adopt in our organization. There’s always been our mission, vision and goals,” Lincoln said. “The chief’s philosophy is a letter from me that talks about who we are as a service and why we’re here for the community. It’s more just about the catalyst that keeps our organization together.”

Lincoln said the Strategic Plan is reviewed and updated as needed annually.

“It talks about station sites and how much property we’re going to need. We’re actually engineering our station to use the same floor plan to cut costs for taxpayers and using that footprint over and over again. It talks about that,” he added.

The document also details how the fire department operates, services and resources, associated costs, personnel, shifts, facility projections and more.

The board approved a contract with Fire Recovery USA, LLC for incident billing services. Twenty percent of revenue brought in will go to the company per the contract.

Lincoln went over his monthly Chief’s Report, which states the department responded to 102 incidents in August — 59 percent of those were rescue and medical, 10 percent were fire response, 6 percent were service calls/citizen assistance, 18 percent were good intent calls, 3 percent were hazardous conditions, 4 percent were false alarm/call and 1 percent were special incident.

Response time inside city limits went up from 3 minutes and 52 seconds in July to 5 minutes and 56 seconds in August. Out of district response time went up from 8 minutes and 8 seconds to 16 minutes and 50 seconds. This was mostly related to one call that took three times as long as an average call.

The overall average response time went up from 8 minutes and 20 seconds to 9 minutes and 40 seconds.

A town hall meeting to provide information on the upcoming sales tax election is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 5. It will be preceded by the regular monthly board meeting at 6:30 p.m. The location of the meetings is to be determined.

Before the closing of the meeting, Commissioner James Baker shared a few words about Lincoln’s performance.

“I think this department is very well led and I think you’ve been an asset to the department,” he told the chief.