Updated 10:29 p.m. CST
Unofficial results from Travis County show that voters have approved the bid by Travis County Emergency Services District No. 2 to boost funding through a 0.5 percent increase to the local sales tax.
The measure has passed with 597 "for" votes and 591 "against" votes with 20 of 20 precincts reporting. Just over 50 percent of voters supported the proposition. The county will release official tallies after election day.
"We're very pleased to come out with a victory," said Cliff Avery, executive director of the Texas State Association of Fire and Emergency Districts who has also been serving as a spokesman for ESD No. 2 on the tax issue. "We'll begin the process of hiring and training and equipping firefighters to become paramedics and to provide the best level of emergency care to our residents."
ESD No. 2—also known as the Pflugerville Fire Department—has funded itself in part through a 0.5 percent sales tax that it has been allowed to levy since 2001. The measure put to voters will increase that sales tax to 1 percent in some unincorporated areas of the district.
The extra money will be used in part to give firefighters paramedic training and supplies so local fire stations can respond to the same severe medical emergencies that ambulance crews address.
ESD officials have said the increase is needed to pay for more than $23.9 million in upgrades needed to replace equipment, build new fire stations and patch service gaps. Some Pflugerville officials, however, have decried the plan as a waste of money that could be put to better use for economic development purposes.
The ESD was initially funded with a 5-cent property tax after its creation in 1992. That was increased to the maximum-allowed 10 cents in 2000. ESDs may only budget within the amount of money they receive from combined property and sales tax revenues.
In-person voting in Travis County took place on May 10 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. In-person early voting ended on Tuesday, May 6.