By Pat Stacey
Recently the Smith County Emergency Services District number 2 or ESD voted to reduce the property tax rate for those homeowners served by the district. The impact of the tax rate reduction is that the operating budget will be lower and thus funding for some of Smith County's smaller fire departments will be reduced.
The flip side of the coin is that the ESD has been operating with a surplus – they have more money than they budgeted for. Now we don't need a reduction in services for the critical role that our local fire departments play, but in these economic times, it is hard for a taxing entity to justify operating with a surplus.
The governing board did the right thing by reducing the tax rate and now they need to follow up and make sure that services are not impacted. If the surplus is what it appears to be, there should be no change in service.
Fire departments should be able to maintain their day crews, purchase new equipment and keep other expenses in-line. The responsibility of the fire departments is to work diligently to maintain that equipment and if they run short of funds, because of an increase in calls or work like we are experiencing with our current fire situation, they need to apply for extra funding which is also available.
No one should lose in this and taxpayers should be able to keep a little more of their money and that will make for a Better East Texas.