Following the passage of an ordinance authorizing fire service fees by the Denison City Council some county officials have called the practice into question.
Denison enacted an updated ordinance on Feb. 18 clarifying the city’s stance on fees it intends to charge for fire related service calls. After public outcry the city adopted rules that spelled out who would be affected by the rules. The city’s stance is it will not impose fees on residents who live inside city limits.
Former Grayson County Purchasing Agent Jeff Schneider said he lives in the area outside city limits known as the extra territorial jurisdiction. Residents who live outside city limits but inside the ETJ are subject to different utility rates as residents inside city limits. Schneider said he still pays some taxes to the city and receive city services and the city hasn’t clarified how the ordinance affects residents in the ETJ.
“The city manager talked about how the people in city limits won’t get a bill but people outside city limits will be billed,” Schneider said. “That’s not right. Grayson County pays them over $104,000 a year for fire. That is a lot of money they are getting paid to cover the rural areas. They should give the city the same service that goes to the city residents. We do pay taxes to the county and that goes to the same service. They are double dipping on those who are paying their fair share.”
Schneider is not the only individual with a stake in the matter who called it double dipping.
“If they charge people out in the county that would be double dipping,” Grayson County Commission Precinct 2 David Whitlock said. “The county pays for fire services. We’ve tried to work with them. I am sure we’ll work it out some way or another.”
Schneider said while he personally doesn’t pay Denison city property taxes, he does pay to taxes to the county, who pays Denison to cover fire services for county residents.
“If I end up with a fire call at my house and they send me a bill for $10,000, I don’t have that kind of pocket change,” Schneider said. ‘Even if they bill the insurance that will increase premiums. If the county is going to pay for this and the city double dips, the county will need to stop paying them.”
In an emailed statement Denison Director of Community Engagement said the city views it’s rules as a fair to the resident taxpayers.
“The city partners with Grayson County to provide fire and EMS services to areas outside of Denison city limits and receives financial consideration which helps offset the cost of delivering services to outlying areas,” Mackey said in the email. “In addition, administering fees for fire services outside of our city limits will help the city offset the cost of delivering these essential services. The city looks forward to continuing its partnership with Grayson County to deliver fire and EMS services outside of city limits.”
The city of Bonham recently enacted a similar ordinance. However, that city department does not receive funding from Fannin County.
What do you think of the city billing Grayson County residents who receive Denison fire services? Let Denison area reporter Richard A. Todd know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. He can also be reached on Facebook and Twitter @RichardAToddHD.