Help or Hindrance?

24 Aug

Hutto ESD has dedicated and well trained firefighters who constantly work on their skills and help keep our area safe. That said, there is still a big problem, and that is with the Fire Inspector and the way policies/regulations are enforced with little regard to reality or consequences. This is going to be part of a much longer ongoing discussion with plenty of opportunity for all views, so don’t expect a lot in this first post on the subject. But do look for more to come.

Did you know a large national firm was looking to locate in one of the business parks on Hwy 79? They were looking at purchasing a building with land to possibly expand which means they would have been a permament business edition to Hutto, one that expected to immediately add 50 – 100 jobs upon opening. However, after a chance encounter with our fire inspector in which they felt they were grilled about what they wanted to do and told what hoops they would have to jump through toif they bought the property they decided Hutto was not a place to locate a business. Another park owner wanted to build an 8,000 sq ft spec building but was informed that to do so they would need an extensive sprinkler system (without knowing for what), a water storage tank about the size of the one in downtown Hutto and a booster pump – – total cost: $80,000 to $120,000. Buildings out in the parks lease for around $.55 a sq ft – about average for this area. Adding another $100,000 on to the cost would put rents way out of reach so needless to say it was never built.  There are buildings in both parks that have been for lease sit empty, with few prospects because of the prohibitive costs to meet current fire codes. Getting new water lines to the parks would cost an estimated $1.6 million and does not include new distribution lines on hookups within the parks. Thus we have a “catch 22” with property owners deprived of thier property and both the HISD and the Fire District deprived of much needed tax revenue.

These are only two examples and more will be forthcoming. At the same time the District is in a financial bind because by law it can only tax $.10 per hundred valuation and cannot issue bonds like Hutto can. And this comes at a time when the ESD needs all the money it can get. Why? We already have one hotel with another one scheduled to be built. We also will have a three story college building opening in the Spring of 2013, yet because Hutto does not have a ladder truck, they cannot fight fires in buildings of two stories and therefore have to rely on other departments to come to their aid. Not the best situation.

Somewhere, somehow, compromises need to be reached, solutions found. More to come.

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