Officials from Emergency Services District No. 11 asked Austin City Council members to consider an interlocal agreement for emergency services to the Circuit of The Americas track during the second public hearing on its annexation Oct. 18.
“The City of Austin will potentially annex this COTA track by the end of the year, and if normal annexation processes are used, then it is likely that our department will lose hundreds of thousands of tax dollars,” said Ken Bailey, Travis County Fire Rescue chief.
Bailey said the ESD doesn't oppose the annexation by the city, but it would like to enter into an interlocal agreement with the city since the ESD would still have a burden of providing service to the area because of its close proximity. Bailey presented to City Council a proposal that would add the ESD to the emergency service plan and would take some of the tax revenue to look into building a dual-use fire station.
Currently, of the 2 cent sales tax, the library district gets a half cent and the ESD gets 1 1/2 cents, according to Bailey. If the city annexes the property, the breakdown would be half a cent for the library district, half a cent for the city, and a penny would go to Capital Metro.
The proposal presented by Bailey would give the library district a half cent, the city would get a half cent and the ESD would receive a full cent. In three years, a quarter of a cent would go from the ESD to fund the dual-use fire station.
“This proposal requires no funding from the City of Austin,” Bailey said. “It benefits service to the residents of both the county and the city, it provides sustainability of service to the emergency service district, it ensures the best protection of the track facility, and lastly, city revenues from the track would be the same as what you've seen in your projections prior of today.”
Councilman Mike Martinez told speakers that according to the city's legal department, the annexation process did not allow the council to dictate how revenue from the appropriated property would be distributed.
“I'm trying to tell you I hear your concerns, I hear the ESD's concerns,” Martinez said. “I'm very supportive of trying to work something out. There is an instrument to do it, but it's not through the annexation process. It's through the automatic aid agreement process.”
City staff were also able to provide further information about how sound ordinances would apply to the newly annexed property.
Greg Guernsey, director of the Planning and Development Review Department, told council members that according to state law, the city would not be able to stop the owners of the track from using it in a manner that was planned prior to the annexation.
“We would not be able to deny a sound permit to the amphitheater because that use was planned before the 90th day before it would come into the city, but we would require one,” Guernsey gave as an example.
Guernsey also speculated that because of the amphitheater's distance to the property line, it would exceed the decibel limit under the city's sound ordinance.