Upcoming Events

Board Meeting:

Tuesday, October 17 at 5 pm
111 EMS Drive
Dripping Springs, TX 78620

October 17 Regular Meeting Agenda


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FAQS

Q: Who provides our emergency medical services?
A: North Hays County Emergency Services District No. 1 (ESD1) is the grassroots government responsible for emergency medical services in 244 square miles of northern Hays County, including Dripping Springs, Driftwood and Henly. It’s the largest ESD in Hays County. The ESD is overseen by five commissioners appointed by the Hays County Commissioners Court.

Q: What is an emergency services district?
A: Emergency services districts are political subdivisions of the state of Texas like municipalities or school districts. An emergency services district (ESD) can provide fire protection, emergency medical response or both. North Hays County ESD No. 1 provides emergency medical services through a contract with San Marcos Hays County Emergency Medical Services.

A different emergency services district – Hays County ESD No. 6 – operates North Hays County Fire and Rescue to provide fire protection in a nearly contiguous area.

Q: What kind of service does North Hays County ESD No. 1 provide?
A: ESD1, though its contract with San Marcos Hays County EMS, provides advanced life support (ALS) ambulance service and medical transport to more than 35,000 people in northern Hays County.

Two ESD1-owned ambulances are in-service around-the-clock every day. Each is staffed with a paramedic (a person with the highest level of emergency medical training) and an emergency medical technician.

During peak demand times (8 a.m. to 10 p.m.), one ambulance is shifted to a North Hays County Fire and Rescue station east of Dripping Springs, where it can respond more quickly to calls along heavily traveled U.S. 290.

Q: Where does our ESD1 get its money?
A: ESD1 levies a property tax of 2.52 cents per $100 property value. That means that a home valued at $325,000 on the tax rolls pays about $82 a year for emergency medical services. Under the Texas Constitution, no ESD may levy more than ten cents per $100 property value.

Q: Why has ESD1 called an election to raise the tax rate ceiling?
A: Simple answer: Rising costs.
ESD1 is confronting several challenges to maintain and improve its current level of service.

Higher contract costs: ESD1 contracts with San Marcos Hays County EMS to staff the ambulances that the ESD owns. San Marcos Hays County EMS also contracts with the cities of San Marcos and Kyle and with Hays County for ambulance service. For years, ESD1 benefitted from a favorable allocation of costs among the SMHCEMS clients. At the urging of its other clients, SMHCEMS changed the way it calculated its fees. As a result, ESD1’s manpower costs increased about 80 percent, and the district had to dip into its reserves to cover the increased costs.

Higher manpower costs: ESD1 and SMHCEMS are in the heart of the fast-growing Central Texas corridor. To recruit and retain competent emergency medical technicials and paramedics for its ambulances, ESD1 has to compete with other agencies that pay higher wages. Neighboring ESDs have much higher tax caps and tax rates to afford competitive salaries.

Growth: Projections call for Hays County’s population to double in ten years. With more people in its district, ESD1 will have to answer more calls for help. In the past three years, the number of calls for help has increased 43 percent.

Currently, ESD1 responds to about 121 calls for emergency medical service every month – about four every day. Ambulances may be required to transport patients to hospitals in Austin, and the average time for a call is about two hours.

About 21 times a month, both ESD1 ambulances are already responding to an emergency or
transporting patients. That means the ESD has to summon an ambulance from another part of the county if a third call comes in. That’s called “Level Zero.” During about five “Level Zeros” each month, a third call for help comes in.

That’s the way it is today. By 2025, the number of calls for help is expected to more than double.
Without adding ambulances and staff, the wait for an ambulance may become significantly longer.

Q: How could this affect my property taxes?
A: Although the ESD1 Board of Commissioners is considering asking voters to approve an increase of the tax rate ceiling to 7 cents per $100 of property value, the ESD Board’s analysis does not show the need to go above 5 cents per $100 in the next two years.

The Board has gone on-record that, barring unforeseen threats to the financial sustainability of the ESD, the tax rate will not exceed 5 cents per $100 for the next two years. The impact of that increase to a $325,000 home is about $80 a year, less than $7 a month.

ESD1 Board members are all residents of the district, and all pay taxes, too. The Board has a long history of conservative budgeting and spending and setting a tax rate well below the ceiling allowed by law.