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Local leaders push for more oversight over county Emergency Services Districts

Local leaders push for more oversight over county Emergency Services Districts
Thursday, March 7, 2013 - 7:48pm

State Representative Marisa Marquez testified before the House County Affairs Committee in Austin Thursday to support a bill that would give El Paso County Commissioners more oversight over the two Emergency Services Districts, ESDs, in El Paso County.

Property owners in El Paso are taxed for ESD 1 and 2, but county officials are concerned because El Paso County Commissioners have no oversight in setting those tax rates. Additionally, the individuals who set the tax rates are not elected into their position.

Perez also said there have been serious incidents of misconduct and misuse of public funds by the ESD's

Emergency Service District 1 is made up of the Horizon Fire Department.  Emergency Services District 2 is made up of the Clint, Fabens, San Elizario, Socorro, Montana Vista and West Valley Fire Departments.

Marquez sponsored House Bill 685 with support from El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar, County Attorney Joanne Bernal, County Auditor Edward Dion and County Commissioner Vincent Perez.  The bill increases accountability for the ESD's to County Commissioners by establishing policies and procedures that the ESD's must abide by.  Those policies are created with the ESD's input.

The bill passed the County Affairs Committee and will likely be voted on next week.  It has to go through other committees before reaching the House floor.

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