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Emergency Services Districts More Cost Effective than Cities

A new report from noted economist Dr. Ray Perryman finds that across Texas, Emergency Services Districts are more cost effective than municipalities in delivering emergency services.

Emergency Services Districts – ESDs – are independent, grassroots governments created by voters to provide fire protection, emergency medical response or both. Emergency Services Districts protect more than 10 million Texans.

Perryman’s researchers collected tax data for ESDs and for similarly sized municipalities in the same geographic area. Using census figures, the report calculated the per capita expenditure for both Emergency Services Districts and municipalities.

In 19 areas, the ESDs were less expensive and more cost effective, the report concluded.

In many areas, the difference was dramatic. For example, a taxpayer in Jefferson County ESD No. 4 paid $49.42 in taxes for emergency services. In the nearby cities of Nederland and Groves, a taxpayer paid more than double that amount — $101.70.

A taxpayer in Smith County ESD No. 2 paid $45.84 for emergency services; in the City of Tyler, the county seat, a taxpayer paid more than four times that amount — $185.86, the research showed.

Perryman extended the analysis to look at what that means for the Texas economy as a whole. The savings in areas served by Emergency Services Districts from what they would have to pay for municipal service would amount to $1.2 billion in annual gross product for Texas and generate an estimated 12,081 jobs.

“Emergency Services Districts provide a stable source of funds for fire protection and other protective services. They also provide notable cost savings compared to other options such as contracting with a municipality,” the report concluded.
“Without the resources provided by ESDs, many areas would be faced with inadequate protective services,” the report states. “In some areas, it is difficult to retain sufficient numbers of volunteers (in fact, there has been an ongoing, long-term pattern of reduction in volunteers). These trends increase the need for more formal funding structures and stable systems such as those provided by ESDs.”

The report, including detailed comparisons between Emergency Services Districts and cities, is available for download at

The report is made available by the State Association of Fire and Emergency Districts (SAFE-D), the only organization dedicated to helping the men and women of Texas Emergency Services Districts provide fire protection and emergency medical services to more than 10 million Texans. For more information about Emergency Services Districts or SAFE-D, go to

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