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Dayton tax rollback, general elections set

January 25, 2018 GMT

The final items on Monday night’s Dayton City Council meeting included the call for two elections: the general election for three council spots and a special election for the petitioned tax rollback.

The three open city council seats include Position No. 1 Josh Townsend, Position No. 2 Sherial L. Lawson, and Position No. 3 Alvin Burress. Burress is filling out the term of former councilman Dwight Pruitt who resigned mid-term to take on more responsibilities at his church.

The election has been set for May 5, and polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Also, on the ballot will be the tax rollback election.

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“This one is a little sticky,” said City Attorney Brandon Davis.

More than enough citizens signed a petition delivered to city hall a full week before the deadline of Wednesday, Dec. 20 requesting an election for a tax rollback from the adopted .67 cents to the effective rate of .6557.

The city council could have met and validated the petitions or could have ignored it.

“Everything looked good with the petition and rather than make the council come up here during the holidays and try to get a quorum between Christmas and New Year’s, we didn’t meet on it and that validated the petition,” the city attorney said.

The governing body has 20 days to rule on the petition. If the petition is valid, an election must

be called between 30 and 90 days after the ruling.

“In preparing for the election, I called the Secretary of State’s office and my first thought was to put it on the same date as the March Primary to save money,” Davis said.

He discovered that no election can be held on the same date as an election primary by state law. In addition, no election can be held 30 days before or 30 days after that primary as well.

“Considering the dates, we could not have the election, it put us outside of the dates required by law for the tax rollback,” he said.

The Secretary of State told Davis that any election within the 30 days before or 30 days after would be considered void.

In an email sent to Davis, Tim Juro, staff attorney in the Elections Division of the Texas Secretary of State’s Office wrote, “The city would not be able to hold an election 30 days before or after the primary date of March 6, 2018 or 30 days before or after the May 5, 2018 uniform election date. As a result, the city would need to hold the election on the May 5, 2018 uniform date, even though this date is outside the window mentioned in the Tax Code.”

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The council agreed to contract with Dayton ISD and the Liberty County Clerk for County Clerk Paulette Williams to conduct the election. City Secretary Melinday Soliday said it saves the city money.

An estimate of the cost was $8,000 split between the district and the city.

If the election is successful and a rollback is ordered, the city will be forced to refund the tax overage to residents who have already paid their taxes. The rollback does not allow for residents to pay their taxes late without penalty.

In other council action:

--Council approved the contracting of the Dayton Chamber of Commerce staff to run the Dayton Community Center. In a personnel rearrangement, Amanda Wilson was sent to city hall to work in the procurement office and working with FEMA reimbursements leaving an open spot for a point person to run the community center. With the chamber already in the facility, City Manager Theo Melancon said it made sense for them to run the center since they were already present in the building on a daily basis. The chamber will receive $35,000 in funding to help with the expense of personnel.

--First Liberty National Bank asked for and received a variance for a new, larger and higher sign for the bank.

--O’Malley Strand and Associates Engineering was contracted to begin engineering for a test well on TX 146 to see if it will be a viable source of water. The cost of the design, engineering services and reporting is $50,500. That does not include the actual drilling which will cost in the vicinity of $548,000. Council also approved the Tram Road water well rehab booster pump station. The hope was to provide enough water for the coming growth and alternate sources of water in the event Rosewood Station went down leaving the city without water.

--Dayton Ole Tyme Days was granted a $4,000 budget from the city for the annual event. The street closures proposal was tabled until the organizers could meet with local businesses affected by the festival which is set for April 20-22.

--Council members also approved the hiring of the outside law firm Thompson and Horton for an issue discussed in executive session.

--Council members Josh Townsend and Sherial L. Lawson were absent from the meeting.

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