Each of the four Harris County ESDs which provides fire services in Spring and Klein receives 1 percent of sales tax revenue in certain portions of their coverage areas.
Klein Volunteer Fire Department—which is funded by Harris County ESD No. 16—received $5.58 million in sales tax revenue in 2017—an increase from the $4.03 million the department received in 2016. It is also more than the $3.3 million projected in the department’s 2017 budget, ESD 16 Secretary Steve Falkner said.
Ponderosa Fire Department—which is contracted by ESD 28—and Champions Emergency Services District, or ESD 29, also received more sales tax revenue than projected in 2017.
Fire departments use sales tax revenue in different ways. Some departments like Spring Fire Department, which is contracted by ESD 7, use sales tax revenue primarily for capital improvement projects, ESD 7 Commissioner Gayle Fuller said. Other departments, including CESD, do not differentiate between revenue sources and use all funds for both operations and capital projects, CESD Fire Chief Dan Shelor said.
Capital projects are a priority for Spring and Klein ESDs because many fire departments are building new fire stations or restoring older stations, officials said. A decrease in sales tax revenue could affect the pace of developing capital projects, but Falkner said ESD 16 expects its sales tax revenue to continue to increase.
“Should the sales tax drop considerably, we would need to slow future capital expenditures,” Falkner said. “However, at least for the next few years, we see sales tax revenue increasing as companies move into the Grand Parkway corridor.”
ESD 16 includes some areas along the Grand Parkway, including the Gleannloch Farms area off Champion Forest Drive where a new $4 million KVFD fire station will open in January.
Falkner said ESD 16’s sales tax revenue will allow the district to begin future capital projects sooner than planned. ESD 7 President Bob Schmanski also said receiving additional sales tax revenue helps with capital projects for SFD, including rebuilding Station 75 on FM 2920 for $7.6 million.
However, after the flooding in August from Hurricane Harvey, PFD Fire Chief Fred Windisch said he is concerned about how a possible decrease in ESD 28’s revenue from property taxes would affect future sales tax revenue.
“I am concerned about that 500 homes that were flooded [in Hurricane Harvey] and the impact on our ad valorem revenue,” Windisch said. “If that decreases, then we will have to use more sales tax revenue.”