As a democracy, it is well within our right as U.S. citizens to rise up and make our voices heard when a need is present, whether that is for financial assistance or health care. In most instances, however, few choose to exercise that right.
Rural Nueces County residents have, over the past year or so, made a giant push to install a new Emergency Services District for the areas of Bishop, Petronila and Driscoll. For the safety and quality of life of those residents, this measure is one that must and should be supported by voters in Thursday's election.
For years, residents in Bishop, Petronila and Driscoll have relied on the services of EMS departments from Kingsville and Robstown to respond to emergency calls.
However, response times were not ideal, with some situations resulting in waits as long as 45-minutes, as stated by supporters of the measure during a meeting with Nueces County Commissioners earlier this year.
Sheila Clint, a rural Nueces County resident, talked about how she lost her husband in April 2009 because of the lack of an ambulance service.
John Thomas, a fire commissioner, recounted how he had to wait 45 minutes for an ambulance while suffering a heart attack. An EMS based out of Driscoll, as the new ESD would be, could have responded in as little as five minutes.
As of last year, though, Kingsville had stopped responding to emergency calls, putting the situation squarely on the City of Robstown's EMS crew. The department did a fine job of filling that role, earning nothing but praise from residents in Bishop and other rural areas of the county.
However, Robstown is supported and funded by Robstown taxpayers and their priority must be given to those citizens.
Earlier this year, Robstown's EMS halted its services to the rural areas, citing the decision as a fiscal one due to the economic downturn, as well as aiming to better serve its own citizens.
A temporary EMS service has been contracted for Bishop, Driscoll and Petronila, with interlocal agreements between the cities and local school districts helping to fund the service through the end of the year. If voters approve the new ESD, which would be Emergency Services District No. 6, a new tax rate and board would have to be set.
Tax revenue would not be collected, however, until the end of the year, so the contracted EMS service would need to stay in place until that time.
While some residents may balk at the idea of paying new taxes, it is a necessary evil in this instance. The current tax roll could not support a full-time EMS crew, equipment and operations, so new revenue is needed. The new tax rate would likely be about 7 cents per $100 valuation, supporters have said.
So, for the safety and betterment of rural Nueces County residents, vote "Yes" to the creation of Emergency Services District No. 6.