Emergency Services District
When will the next election for an ESD occur?
Commissioners Court has set the date for May 12th.
Is the ESD in any way related to the drive to incorporate areas of Tarkington?
No, the ESD is completely separate from the incorporation issue and will not effect this effort.

How much will the ESD cost me?
The ESD is based upon a $.10 per $100 evaluation.  For example, if your property is valued by the County at $138,000 your tax would be $138 per year.

Can the rate go higher than $.10?
No, the rate is limited by state law to the current amount.  The board can, however, set the rate at a lower rate.

What is the purpose of the ESD?
Primarily to provide better service through the purchase of equipment,the construction of additional stations, and increased training for the department.

How much will the ESD raise for the department?
Current projections place estimated collections at a $.10 rate at app. $320,000.

How much is your current budget?
The Department's budget for 2012 is app. $150,000. However, this is a very unstable number as all of the Department's income fluctuates. The primary source of income for the Department is per-run from Liberty County. TVFD receives varying amounts from $200 to $450 for car fires, brush fires, structure fires, search and rescue, and MVAs. The Department receives nothing for false alarms or first responder calls. As the call volume fluctuates, so does the amount the Department receives. Plus, this amount sometimes does not even cover the cost of fighting a fire in terms of fuel and other supplies (such as foam) used. TVFD also uses a billing company to re-coup some costs from MVAs and structure fires from the insurance companies. However, not every insurance company pays and then it is often for a lesser amount than billed. Lastly, the final source of income is from fundraisers and donations. As you can see, none of these is a stable source, making budgeting very difficult.

Why not just do more fundraisers?
TVFD members already spend countless hours responding to calls (TVFD responded to over 500 calls in 2010), training, maintaining the apparatus and equipment, and fundraising, all of this without receiving one dime in compensation. How unfair would it be to ask them to take even more time away from their jobs and their families to do even more fundraising? Due to the demands placed on these volunteers, it is often difficult to recruit and retain members. How much harder would it be if those demands were added to?

I saw that you spent nearly $150,000 on your 1999 KME when it was purchased in 2000.  Why so much?
Actually, $150,000 is very inexpensive for a new fire engine considering the average cost for a new pumper is between $200,000 and $400,000 (See Ferrara Fire Apparatus' "Demo Blowout Sale" as an example.  The new brush truck, Booster 51 cost $117,000.  You have to remember that the chassis alone for a new Freightliner or International costs between $70,000 and $100,000.  A new Ford F-550 4x4 chassis with a diesel engine for a brush truck would cost app. $45,000.

Why can't you just buy a four-door pickup like in that old Ford commercial?
Because the truck in that Ford commercial carries no water, no way of pumping the water, no equipment such as hose, SCBA, generators, etc. What that Ford commercial doesn't show you is those firefighters standing around watching the building burn until a real fire engine arrives.

Can't you purchase used equipment?
Used fire equipment is like buying a used car, you simply don't know what you're getting.  It could be an excellent piece of equipment and it could be a lemon.  Unlike used cars, there are no "program" firetrucks that are only a year or two old and have low miles.  Most used fire apparatus is at least ten years old and the nature of emergency response means that these units have been run hard.

Will ESD funds be used to pay firefighters?
There are no current plans to have paid firefigters.  Our most pressing needs are for substations and additional apparatus. Tarkington VFD will continue to be a volunteer fire department.  We must stress that none of our members receives one single dime in compensation for our time spent training, fundraising, or responding to emergencies.

Will the ESD lower my insurance?
Not directly.  However, insurance rates are based upon the fire department's ISO rating.  Some considerations that go into the ISO rating include the amount, quality, and age of the department's equipment, as well as the insured's proximity to a station.  The ESD provides funds for the department to purchase new equipment and construct new stations, so this will impact both the ISO rating and insurance rates.  Long term, the decrease in insurance rates should more than exceed the increased taxes.

Isn't the department's equipment good enough already?
In a word, no.  Though we have continously updated our equipment over the last ten years, the average age of the fleet is 12 years.  You have to remember that these trucks operate under very harsh conditions.  Maintenance and upkeep on the older truck also drains funds that could be used elsewhere.  In addition, the department covers 200 square miles from two stations, meaning that some areas are a thirty minute drive from the station.  Clearly more stations are needed.

I thought Liberty County contracted with the City of Cleveland to provide fire and emergency medical services for Tarkington?
Liberty County does have a contract with the City of Cleveland to provide EMS service for Tarkington, but not fire.  In addition, Tarkington VFD first responder units can often be on location precious minutes before the ambulance can arrive.  While medical transport will still be provided by Cleveland EMS, TVFD first responders can begin treatment prior to the ambulance arriving.

Will TVFD provide ambulance service?
No, the ESD will provide fire, rescue, and first responder service only. Ambulance service will continue to be provided by City of Cleveland EMS.

I'm not concerned about my insurance rate or my house burning down because insurance will replace everything.  Why should I care?
Insurance cannot replace everything, especially personal items, such as baby pictures, wedding pictures, your grandpa's watch, etc.  And insurance certainly cannot replace a life lost due to fire, a life that could have been saved if the firefighters might have arrived a few minutes sooner. And insurance rates will only continue to go up or insurance may become completely unavailable in some areas.

In addition, firefighters respond to more than just fires, particularly motor vehicle accidents. Imagine being trapped in your crushed vehicle, waiting seemingly endlessly to be cut out. Can insurance cover that?

What else does this mean for me?
In addition to potentially cheaper insurance, the added stations will add to your peace of mind in knowing that the department's response time to your location will be drastically reduced (depending on your location).  This lowered response time can mean an increase in lives and property saved.

The following questions came in via e-mail and have been added to the FAQs:

After reading your ESD FAQS I contacted my insurance agent and asked about the ISO 4 versus 10 ratings on my home. My insurance went down $300 on a $100,000 home, which is a considerable difference to the $700 you are using in your promotion of the ESD.

Apparently, getting “phantom” quotes without an actual homeowner’s information, such as a Social Security number, is very difficult. In fact, several agents told us that they couldn’t just get a quote without it going through underwriting.

The one quote we did receive was for a 1675 square foot, wood-framed home built in 1975 and valued at $75,000. The agent did say this was from a company that is generally considered a “last resort” for those that couldn’t get insurance elsewhere. The quote for an ISO 10 was $2289 and an ISO 4 was $1472.

Your quote is actually more in line with what we expected, which was around an average of 20% or so. Still, for a house valued at $100,000, which would mean a maximum ESD tax of $100, a $300 reduction in premium nets you $200.

What are your intentions for the donations from SUD customers? Do you plan to continue asking for those donations also or will they go away?

We do not intend to continue the SUD donation, since that would be asking people to pay twice. It will either go away or it could be applied to another worthy charity, such as the Tarkington Community Library or the North Liberty County Animal Shelter. That would ultimately be the TSUD board’s decision.

Will you continue to receive payment from Liberty county for monthly runs also?

Liberty County does not pay a municipal or ESD fire department for runs within the municipality’s or ESD’s borders, but only for “mutual aid” calls assisting another department. So TVFD would receive payments from Liberty County ONLY for calls outside of the ESD’s boundaries.

Should the ESD pass, TVFD would forego app. $50,000 in County funding, gaining app. $300,000 in ESD funding.

If these FAQs didn't answer your question, send us a an e-mail and we'll answer it ASAP.