Voters in Briarcliff and Lakeway approve creation of Emergency Services District 16

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Travis County residents in the village of Briarcliff, Lakeway’s extraterritorial jurisdiction and a small section of Lakeway proper voted in a special election May 4 to fund advanced medical care in their area.

The approved proposal will create an emergency medical services overlay for the existing Emergency Services District 8.

ESD 16 will share the same geographic boundaries as ESD 8 while increasing fire crew staff and hiring advanced life-support firefighters and technicians.

The results of the election were declared at a May 21 meeting of the Travis County Commissioners Court.

Residents in the proposed district area voted 338 for and 108 against the ballot proposal. This tally includes the village of Briarcliff, whose residents voted 272-85, and the city of Lakeway, whose residents voted 1-2.

Regarding the low turnout among Lakeway voters, Assistant County Attorney Barbara Wilson said, “It’s probably because it was a very, very small portion of the village and [extraterritorial jurisdiction]within the boundaries of the proposed ESD.”

The 54-square-mile area that will be serviced by ESD 16 is mostly without fire hydrants, ESD 8 President Debra Opdalh told Travis County commissioners at a Jan. 29 meeting.

As it stands, the city of Austin and Travis County are primarily responsible for advanced medical response with EMS Station No. 26, located at 22404 Hwy. 71.

“Explosive growth and traffic on Hwy. 71 are placing a tremendous strain on our resources,” Opdahl said.

Many residents in the area are over the age of 65, said Kyle Swarts, president of the Pedernales Professional Firefighters Association, at the same Jan. 29 meeting.

“We’re seeking to provide a higher level of care to our citizens,” Swarts said. “They require more advanced care than we currently are credentialed to provide.”

The new district will be authorized to assess homeowners up to $0.10 per $100 property valuation as a taxing entity.

“We are severely handicapped by funding deficiencies,” Swarts said. “An overlay district will allow us to provide the emergency room in the living room.”

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Emma Freer
Emma Freer began covering Central Austin for Community Impact Newspaper in 2017. Her beat includes the Travis County Commissioners Court and local business news. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School in 2017.
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