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Nueces County ESD 2's proposed tax could bring another fire station to the Island

Posted at 8:37 PM, Oct 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-29 05:18:12-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — When you hear the wailing of a siren, see flashing red and blue lights, and feel the rush of a truck, you know there’s a fire truck around.

Padre Island residents could be seeing more of that if Nueces County ESD 2 gets their property tax increase proposal passed. They’re hoping to get a station on Padre Island.

“The biggest benefit is basically just expanding our facilities and personnel to lower the aggregate response time that we can meet to providing a quality emergency service to our tax payers,” Wes Beseda, the assistant chief said.

Nueces County ESD, which responds to calls on the Island and Flour Bluff, is proposing the tax increase to go up 50%. They said it might sound like a scary number to some, but they said residents are currently paying .03 cents per $100 on their property tax. They want that increased to .045%.

They explained it like this: If you have a property that’s $100,000, then you currently pay $30 in property taxes a year towards them. With the new tax increase, they said that number would go up to $45 a year.

But a new station on Padre Island isn’t the only thing Beseda and his coworkers are hoping for. He said the tax increase would also support a higher pay for them, which he said would help create a more competitive hiring process.

“We are on the lower scale for pay for emergency services and firefighters in the state of Texas and by offering a little bit higher wage, it’s going to allow for a more competitive hiring processes,” Beseda said.

He said it would also allow them to get more technologically advanced equipment like a heart monitor that would send vitals over to physicians before they arrive to the hospital.

Beseda said if the tax increase proposal doesn’t pass in the November 2 election, there wouldn’t be much room to expand a facility on Padre Island or increase their pay.

However, some Island residents like Dale Rankin, the editor and publisher for the Island Moon Newspaper, are questioning the tax increase.

“What I’m hearing from people out here is, number one, surprise that we have two fire departments, and two, why do we have two fire departments and do we want two fire departments?” Rankin said.

Those fire departments that he’s talking about are located on the Island, but they’re owned by the City of Corpus Christi. Nueces County ESD 2 wants one of their own.

Both Beseda and Rankin said more Island residents have been paying attention to the vote as of last week. The Nueces County website shows voter turnout has doubled within the past week for most of the days this week compared to last week.

Some residents though, are still in favor of the tax increase because they would like to see a higher fire fighter presence.

“I’ve seen other people especially older people that lives on the Island and doesn’t have access to town as often, so I favor that,” George Beyluni, a Padre Island resident said.