Commissioners address Proposition A concerns

October 24, 2018 GMT

County Judge Debi Hays and Precinct 1 Commissioner Eddie Shelton told community members during a Tuesday forum at the Kellus Turner Community Center not to let the word tax scare them. This was the first of three town halls that commissioners have scheduled to explain the suggested sales tax assistance district to county residents.

The ballot item, Proposition A, would levy a sales tax of 1.25 cents per dollar and create an assistance district in all of Ector County outside the city limits of Odessa and Goldsmith. Ector County currently relies largely on property taxes and fees for funding.

Hays said that she anticipated an additional $12 million in revenue to be generated during the first year if voters approved the consumption tax. Shelton said that the money collected could only be used in the assistance district area for things such as roads, law enforcement, fire protection, a library and illegal dumping prevention, which aligned with residents’ concerns.

The attendees wanted to see potholes fixed, law enforcement staffed and illegal dumping addressed.

“You are the most heavily populated area,” Hays said. It only makes sense that you’re going to get the bigger piece of that pie. You have more roads so therefore you need more law enforcement. You have more roads that have potholes and there’s more illegal dumping going on here.”

Sheriff Mike Griffis said Proposition A would help the county collect funds from those that use county services and roads but do not pay property tax.

“All those people living in RVs out here, that don’t own the property, every time they go to 7-11, Stripes or Lowe’s Grocery Store they’re going to be helping foot the bill instead of all of us property owners footing the entire bill for all the county services,” Griffis said.

Only registered voters that live in the proposed assistance district can vote on this item, which is basically those who live outside of city limits. One resident told the commissioners that the town hall helped inform them because they had entered thinking Proposition A was a property tax. Attendees commented after the meeting that waiting until the week of early voting to educate voters might be too late to get the item passed.