Fire district officials will gather Wednesday to discuss next year’s tax rate.

Two years ago, the district saw its first tax increase in decades going from three to five cents per $100 in taxable property. The current plan is to keep it’s rate at the five-cent levy.

With rising property values in West Wharton County, the rate, if ultimately approved, would likely mean residents would pay more and the income of the district would increase by about $13,000.

Total values for the district rose from about $3.86 billion to about $4.05 billion, according to the appraisal district.

The district’s effective rate, the levy needed to generate the same funds as last year, is 4.748 cents per $100. The rollback rate, the levy which could bring the issue before voters, is 5.127 cents per $100.

For the average homeowner, the difference would be about $7 per year.

Most of the tax funds generated will be distributed to the county’s eight volunteer fire departments in a formula based on coverage areas and number of calls.

Of the county’s eight volunteer fire departments, only two – El Campo and Wharton – receive municipal funding. For the rest, ESD 1 dollars are the only guaranteed operating funds. The rest come from fundraisers and grants.

Other volunteer departments serving Wharton County are Louise, Danevang, Glen Flora, Boling, Hungerford and East Bernard.

Public hearing on the proposed rate are set for Wednesday, Sept. 4 and Wednesday, Sept. 11, both at 7:30 p.m. at the El Campo Volunteer Fire Department Training Field.

A review of ISO standards in the county is also on the upcoming agenda. ISO ratings are what insurance companies use to get fire protection rates in a given area. They are based on an assortment of criteria including the availability of a water supply, the equipment of a fire department and its ability to respond.

Fire district directors will meet at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 28 at the El Campo Volunteer Fire Department Training Field behind Friendship Park off North Wharton Street. The meeting is open to the public.

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