By CASSIE MCKEE
Four Points News
Residents living in the Volente area in Emergency Services District 14 have gathered enough petition signatures to have a November ballot election to vote on whether to leave the Capital Metro transportation district.
ESD 14 currently sends 1 percent of its collected sales tax to Capital Metro each year. The amount of sales tax being collected by Capital Metro within the borders of ESD 14 but outside the borders of Village of Volente is approximately $200,000/year.
Leaving Capital Metro would allow ESD 14 to keep that money and use it for emergency services. ESD 14 President Lonnie Moore said the funding is critical because the City of Cedar Park annexed a section of ESD 14 in December 2014 that resulted in a loss to the district of approximately $400,000/year.
“Unless the ESD can capture the $200,000/year that is now going to Capital Metro, which provides no services at all to our area and has no plans to do so, the ESD will be forced into cutting back firefighter/first responder personnel,” Moore said. “That reduction in staffing would have a decided negative impact on the delivery of emergency services and we will do all possible to avoid that happening.”
Residents living within the Village of Volente, who are also part of ESD 14, voted in May to leave Capital Metro and keep the $50,000 per year in sales tax revenue they were sending to the transit agency. In that vote, 96 percent of the ballots cast supported leaving Capital Metro.
Moore said there are 1,229 registered voters within Emergency Services District No. 14; 497 of those voters are within the incorporated Village of Volente and the remaining 732 voters are outside the Village of Volente. The district’s boundaries roughly lie along and inside RM 620-RM 2769-Bullick Hollow Road-Lime Creek Road, and the banks of the lake itself.
The petition effort for the November election was organized by the Volente Neighborhood Association. At the June 21 ESD 14 meeting, VNA board member John Schlotzhauer turned in petitions with 195 verified signatures.
“The number of required signatures was 124, so the petition more than met the requirements,” Moore said.
He said the ESD has subsequently initiated the actions needed to add the following item to the ballot on Nov 8: “Shall the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority be continued in Travis County Emergency Services District No. 14?”
A majority vote of “No” at that election will remove the Cap Metro sales tax from the remainder of the district boundaries.
Moore noted that because the Village of Volente lies within the greater territory of ESD 14, voters within the Village were allowed to participate in the petition and will also be allowed to vote on the ballot proposition on Nov. 8.
“So even though the Village territory has already voted out Cap Metro, Village residents can vote on Nov. 8, along with their unincorporated Volente neighbors, on whether the entire ESD withdraws from Cap Metro as well,” Moore said.
Moore said if the residents of ESD 14 vote to remove the District from Cap Metro on Nov. 8, the ESD board of commissioners intends to call a subsequent election with a ballot item that will allow the sales tax that had been going to Cap Metro (outside the Village boundaries) to be redirected to ESD 14, for the purpose of supporting the emergency services that are provided by the Volente Fire Department.
“This will not affect the sales tax collection within the Village of Volente; only the unincorporated portion will be involved in this second election,” he said.