Possible Mt. City firehouse raises ire

A proposed new Kyle Fire Department substation has some Mountain City residents hot under the collar.

Next year, the Kyle Fire Department plans to renovate an existing home in the 200 block of Mountain City Drive in Mountain City to accommodate the new substation.

Kyle Fire Chief Kyle Taylor said the need for a fire station in the residential neighborhood comes because of the increased call volumes in the area.

“In the past four years, emergency calls in the area have doubled,” said Taylor. “We need to get another fire truck on the street and the major area we need to cover is the north-west area of the (Emergency Service District).”

Taylor said taxes were a major reason for renovating the home. He said building an entirely new structure would cost roughly $3 million in tax dollars.

Taylor said ESD 5, which is the Kyle Fire Department, has a property tax rate of 10 cents per $100 valuation. The cost for retrofitting the home into a station and one fire engine would total $670,000.

“We do not have the ability to raise taxes or issue bonds like a city to build infrastructure,” Taylor said. “This option allows us to afford the home and hire the employees to staff it.  It would take years before we could afford to build a station and staff it at today’s costs.”

Mountain City Mayor Phillip Taylor said that it was not unusual for a fire department to purchase and retrofit a home into a substation.

Taylor said emergency services are allowed in residential zones without any sort of zoning change.

Beth Smith, Hays County Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace and a Mountain City resident, advocated for the substation as it would allow the fire department to respond more quickly to emergencies. She added the new substation would save tax-payer funds.

“I’m thrilled,”Smith said. “It’s a fantastic idea by Chief Taylor to utilize the trending neighborhood sub station idea to save taxpayer funds.”

However, not all residents in the 233 home subdivision are happy with the idea of a fire station in their neighborhood.

 “I don’t want any commercial, governmental, or religious entities in Mountain City,” Terry Stowe said. “Keep it residential only.” 

Some major concerns revolve around the noise that would come from the fire engines and the station itself.

“On average this station will respond to 5 to 8 emergencies in a 24 hour period,” Taylor said. “We use the sirens as little as possible, especially at night.  If children are playing or traffic is heavy, we will use them to avoid accidents.”

Taylor said the new substation would be fully ready for use around October 2018.

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