Early voting begins October 23, and while seven constitutional amendments will be voted on state-wide, it’s important to know what to expect on your local ballot.

Ector County residents will have the opportunity to vote on up to ten ballot propositions, including seven amendments to the state constitution, an Ector County Assistance District, a school bond, and an Ector County school district tax increase.

A summary of each constitutional amendment as well as the views and recommendations of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility can be viewed on EmpowerTexans.com or by clicking here.

Here’s what you need to know about the three local ballot propositions:

Proposition A: Ector County Assistance District

Bottom line: This would allow Ector County to levy a 1.25 percent sales tax in a specified area to help “finance operations of the district” – increasing the rate to the highest allowed by the state, 8.25 percent.

This proposition would create a “special assistance district” for Ector County (i.e., “ECAD”) which would allow the levying of a 1.25 percent sales tax within a specified area. Pending voter approval, state law allows counties to create an assistance district where the maximum sales tax rate of 8.25 percent is not already being levied for the “purpose of financing the operations of the district.” This proposed district would be located in an area outside of the cities of Odessa and Goldsmith and inside Ector County – where the sales tax levy is currently 7 percent (6.25 percent by the state and .75 percent by the hospital district). If passed, the new sales tax rate within the ECAD will be 8.25 percent.

Ector County Commissioners have committed to using the sales tax revenue on infrastructure improvements, law enforcement, quality of life improvements, and property tax relief.

More details about the proposed ECAD can be found here.

Proposition A: Ector County Independent School District Bond Election

Bottom line: This calls for a property tax increase of $.17 per $100 valuation in order to finance eight separate projects in the school district.

This proposition calls for the approval of a property tax-supported school bond amounting to $291,172,291 for eight different projects. Proposed projects include: a new comprehensive high school ($131,000,480), conversion of Ector Middle School to a high school ($20,037,460), a new middle school to replace Ector MS($62,514,577), athletics facilities ($4,500,000), a district-wide fiber network ($27,115,705), fire and life safety upgrades ($5,317,044), secure front entries where needed ($1,123,500), and life cycle improvements at every campus ($29,563,545).

District officials state that the bond is needed in order to help with overcrowding issues and to prepare the community for anticipated population growth.

If approved, this bond would increase the interest and sinking (i.e., debt service) portion of the property tax rate by $.17 (up from $.11), hiking the overall rate to $1.32 per $100 valuation (from $1.15 per $100 valuation). For a resident owning a home valued at $200,000, the increase to their annual property tax bill will be approximately $230.

Critics of the bond have expressed concerns over the district’s past woes when it comes to managing finances. The $129.75 million bond passed by voters in 2012 ended up costing far more than the amount that was approved by voters. As a result, the district used a large portion of its reserve funds to pay the difference. This has now hindered the district’s ability to use reserve funds during a downturn and has admittedly played a factor in the decision to hold a tax increase election.

ECISD’s current tax-supported debt amounts to approximately $274 million (accrued from the 2001 and 2012 bonds).

More information about the bond can be found on EmpowerTexans.com and by visiting EctorCountyISD.org.

Proposition B: Ector County ISD Tax Increase

Bottom line: This is requesting the approval of a $.13 increase to ECISD’s property tax rate in order to help fund maintenance and operations (M&O) of the district. If approved, the district’s M&O rate would be the highest allowed by the state at $1.17 per $100 valuation.

In August 2017, ECISD trustees voted to increase the maintenance and operations (M&O) portion of the district’s property tax rate from $1.04 per $100 valuation to $1.17 per $100 valuation (the maximum allowed by the state). An increase over an M&O rate of $1.04 triggers an election giving property owners the option to “ratify” or “rollback” the district’s proposal.

According to ECISD, the increase would allow the district to generate approximately $20.3 million in additional revenue and would help to offset a revenue decline resulting from a drop in oil and gas values.

For a home valued at $200,000, the tax increase would add approximately $176 to a homeowner’s property tax bill.

If both the ECISD bond and tax increase are passed, the same homeowner will see a total increase on their annual property tax bill of $406.

More information about the tax increase election can be found on EmpowerTexans.com or by visiting EctorCountyISD.org.

Don’t Forget to Vote

Election Day is Tuesday, November 7, and early voting begins October 23.  For more information regarding voting times and locations, please visit the Ector County Elections website.

Lauren Melear

Lauren Melear leads the West Texas Bureau of Texas Scorecard. When not working, Lauren enjoys spending time with her husband and their dog, as well as cooking, working out, traveling to the hill country, and cheering on the fightin' Texas Aggies.