Judge: Pflugerville lawsuit attempting to prevent ESD 17 annexation election gets dismissed

gavel on books
According to a Sept. 9 ruling from Travis County’s 200th Civil District Court Judge Jessica Mangrum, the lawsuit has been dismissed, and the court will not be ruling on the temporary injunction. (Courtesy Brian Jackson/Adobe Stock)

According to a Sept. 9 ruling from Travis County’s 200th Civil District Court Judge Jessica Mangrum, the lawsuit has been dismissed, and the court will not be ruling on the temporary injunction. (Courtesy Brian Jackson/Adobe Stock)

A lawsuit filed by a Pflugerville official seeking to prevent an election to annex the city into the taxing boundaries of Travis County Emergency Services District No. 17 will not move forward.

According to a Sept. 17 order from Travis County’s 200th Civil District Court Judge Jessica Mangrum obtained by Community Impact Newspaper, the lawsuit has been dismissed, and the court will not be ruling on the temporary injunction.

Pflugerville City Council Member David Rogers filed the suit on Aug. 9, days before ESD 17 voted to initiate the election during an Aug. 16 ESD board of commissioners meeting.

In an email and speaking as the plaintiff, not on behalf of the city of Pflugerville, Rogers said he is disappointed by the court's ruling, but respects the court's authority and will be reviewing legal options with attorneys to decide the next step.

Rogers said it is important to note the ruling was procedural. The central legal question—whether one municipal government has the power to annex another municipal government—was passed over, he said.


"Arkansas can't take over Texas, and ESD 17 can't take over Pflugerville. It's more than a little ridiculous that they're trying," Rogers said in the email. "It's irresponsible and a waste of taxpayer money. But wasting taxpayer dollars is old hat at the ESD. They don't care because it's not their money—it's your money, and the ESD will burn it if they want to."

The creation of ESD 17 has been a contentious subject among Pflugerville officials for several months.

On May 1, residents in parts of Austin and unincorporated Travis County voted to add an overlay, or additional, district called ESD 17 within the ESD 2 boundaries. This decision means ESD 17 will provide first-response emergency medical services (EMS) and advanced life support (ALS) in the parts of Austin and unincorporated Travis County within the ESD 2 area.

Ahead of the May 1 election, Pflugerville City Council decided to not include the ESD 17 proposition on the city’s ballot. Due to funding issues, ESD 2 stated it will no longer be able to provide EMS and ALS along with fire and rescue services after Sept. 30. However, the district recently extended that date to Dec. 31, 2021.

Following the Sept. 17 decision from the court, voters within Pflugerville and its extraterritorial jurisdiction now know for sure they will be voting on whether they want to be included in ESD 17’s service area, along with the added property taxes that come with it.

On Sept. 14, the ESD 17 board of commissioners adopted a $0.045 tax rate, meaning property owners within its boundaries will pay an extra $135 annually per $300,000 of valuation.

"We are pleased with the outcome of the case and continue to believe the voters should have the opportunity to decide for themselves the level of EMS service they prefer," said MIke Howe, president of the ESD 17 board of commissioners. "We look forward to the opportunity to continue productive discussions with the city."
By Brian Rash
Brian has been a reporter and editor since 2012. He wrote about the music scene in Dallas-Fort Worth before becoming managing editor for the Graham Leader in Graham, Texas, in 2013. He relocated to Austin, Texas, in 2015 to work for Gatehouse Media's large design hub. He became the editor for the Lake Travis-Westlake publication of Community Impact in August 2018. From there he became a dual-market editor for Community Impact's New Braunfels and San Marcos-Buda-Kyle editions. Brian is now a senior editor for the company's flagship papers, the Round Rock and Pflugerville-Hutto editions.


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