From the Office of the County Commissioner: Welcome, 2023!

The new year is a welcome sight for many of us who were battered by events in 2022, including a return of COVID-19 cases and unpredictable weather patterns, which impacted not only our comfort levels, but also our landscapes.

As 2022 came to a close, you may have heard in recent weeks about the incident involving the fire chief of the Emergency Services District #1 in Denton County. This group of firefighters serves five communities in Commissioner Pct. 4 who do not have fire departments of their own, as well as Robson Ranch through a contract with the City of Denton. The ESD is funded by an extra ad valorem tax, which was voted in by the residents of the District in 2006. Robson Ranch residents do not pay an extra tax, as we are residents of the City of Denton and are served jointly by the city and by the ESD.

The FBI has been investigating charges of corruption regarding the firemen’s pensions, which have been under the jurisdiction of the predecessor to the ESD, the Argyle Volunteer Fire Department Board. During that investigation, the FBI has arrested and indicted that fire chief in federal court. The chief was the fire chief of both entities (AVFD and ESD) and apparently had misused the AVFD funds for his personal expenses. This shameful theft is still being investigated, and further violations may come to light. However, it’s important to realize that since its inception and while this investigation is ongoing, the firefighters of the ESD have continued to perform their duties with speed and diligence. Additionally, your county commissioners have been quick in our response to demand appropriate action promptly by the ESD Board, which is appointed by the commissioners. Toward that end, the commissioners have declined to reappoint several ESD Board members whose terms expired on Dec. 31 and will instead appoint experienced, knowledgeable professionals who will be tasked with competently overseeing the activities of the Argyle Volunteer Fire District Board as it is phased out, while all assets and authority are transferred into the ESD.

In short, there will be new faces on the ESD Board with more transparency and oversight, both of the taxpayers’ money and the firefighters’ pensions. New auditors and an attorney are being hired by the ESD to examine both boards’ records, and while the paperwork involved in the transition is cumbersome, the outcome will be both beneficial to the public who is served by the ESD and fair to the firefighters whose pensions have been shortchanged.

We also continue to work with Northlake and the developer of The Ridge neighborhood to complete Cleveland Gibbs Street, giving the ESD equipment a direct route into the front gate at Robson Ranch from the fire station in Harvest. Though we’d like it more quickly, best estimates are that the street is still at least a year from completion. In the meantime, our ESD firefighters and equipment continue to service residents of the Ranch several times a week, and we sincerely thank them for that service.

County Commissioner Dianne Edmondson is a resident of Robson Ranch, and you may contact her by email at [email protected] or phone her office at 972-434-3960. You can also visit her by appointment at her office in the Southwest Courthouse, 6200 Canyon Falls Drive, Suite 900, in Flower Mound. If you would like to receive her periodic e-newsletter, just request it at her email address.