By Vanesa Brashier, email@example.com
Hardin Volunteer Fire Department is making plans to build a second fire station after receiving a 1.5-acre land donation from Moss Hill businessman Bill Wingfield. On Friday, Hardin Fire Chief Craig Powell, Wingfield and members of Hardin VFD and Liberty County Emergency Services District #7 gathered at the site, located about a half-mile east of the SH 105 and SH 146 intersection in Moss Hill.
The new fire station may be three years in the future as the fire department will need to raise roughly $750,000 for construction costs and another $500,000 to purchase a pumper truck. With 50 percent of their calls coming from the northern part of ESD #7, Powell said Moss Hill was the prime location for a second fire station.
“Our district stretches from FM 2830 (Airport Road) to the south all the way north past Snake River. The district goes west on SH 105 to the Trinity River and east to the Liberty-Hardin county line. We also service the area on FM 834 about midway to Daisetta and FM 1011 to the railroad tracks,” Powell said. “It’s about a 120-square mile area.”
For firefighters who live in the Moss Hill area, the new station will allow a quicker response time. Instead of driving eight miles south to Hardin and getting in a truck before heading back north, they will be able to respond directly from Moss Hill.
“My hope is that will also generate more interest in being part of the fire department,” said ESD #7 Commissioner Mark Neal.
The fire department is pushing for passage of an upcoming sales tax referendum for voters in ESD #7. This election does not include residents in the City of Hardin as the city already claims the available $0.01 in sale taxes.
“We currently have a half-penny sales tax for the ESD. We are going after that other penny,” Powell said.
The current sales tax rate inside the city limits of Hardin is $0.0825 per $100 of taxable goods. In the rest of the district, the current rate is $0.0725. The referendum election, if passed by voters, will bring the tax rate in all parts of the ESD to $0.0825. By capturing that single penny, the ESD could generate an estimated $60,000 in additional income, which could be used to pay the note on the new station.
Powell said that if the sales tax election is passed by voters in November, the ESD plans to provide a $15,000 homestead exemption to homeowners within the district.
“That’s our plan if this goes into place,” he said. “More of the cost of operating the fire department will be picked up by the people traveling through our area and paying sales taxes on purchases. It will give relief to those who live here if we can make it happen.”
When asked why he felt it was important to donate the land to the fire department, Wingfield said, “It’s to help the community.”