GRANITE SHOALS — Officials are revisiting a proposal to begin charging for fire protection outside the city limits.
The plan discussed during a workshop Thursday would allow homeowner associations and subdivisions to contract for services, but what happens to residents living on their own remains undecided.
To cover everyone, Burnet County officials are suggesting the city look into joining an emergency services district, which could be on the ballot Nov. 8. A similar measure was defeated two years ago.
Now, city residents pay the majority of costs for fire protection both in and outside the municipal limits.
“I think if we can come up with a formula that is similar to what residents are paying, we can do it,” said Granite Shoals Fire Rescue Chief Austin Stanphill. “The department can’t continue to provide this service outside the city limits.”
The city budgets about $220,000 for the Fire Department, officials said. The county provides an additional $23,000 for “mutual aid” response outside the city limits.
Mayor Dennis Maier said the $23,000 doesn’t come close to covering the fire department’s cost to provide protection outside the city limits.
“City residents are basically subsidizing fire protection outside of Granite Shoals,” he said.
However, the county and city signed a contract last year stipulating Granite Shoals will provide some fire protection in rural and unincorporated areas. The contract ends Sept. 31.
The council now has to decide what happens after that. During the meeting, city leaders said protection has to be maintained outside the city limits, and at an equitable level for those residents.