Come November, a number of Ector County voters will have the option of adopting a 1.25 cent sales tax that county commissioners say will be used to restore infrastructure, address public safety needs, and lower property taxes.

Unlike a traditional sales tax election, commissioners have called for the creation of a County Government Assistance District (CGAD) which would levy the 1.25 cent tax. The CGAD would include all areas within Ector County, except for the cities of Odessa and Goldsmith – which both already levy a total sales tax rate of 8.25 percent, or the maximum amount allowed by the state.

The 50,000-60,000 residents residing in the potential CGAD area currently pay a .75 percent sales tax to the county hospital district in addition to the 6.25 percent state sales tax. With a combined rate of 7 percent and currently zero sales tax levied by the county, commissioners believe the opportunity for additional revenue could help them not only address infrastructure needs, but take a portion of the financial burden off property owners.

According to state law, district assistance tax revenues may be used for roads, police, community facilities (such as libraries, museums, and recreational facilities), public health and welfare services, economic development and tourism. Ector County Commissioners, however, say that the focus will remain on what constituents have stated their priorities are – better infrastructure, an increased presence of law enforcement, quality of life improvements and lower property taxes.

If passed, Ector County Judge Ron Eckert explains how the additional revenue from the sales tax could help save money on property taxes – thus transferring some of the financial burden from an ad valorem tax to a consumption tax.

“I think the principle to look at is the ‘see-saw principle’,” Eckert said, referring to the two primary revenue generators of local government. “The property tax burden should be lighter if the sales tax revenue gets on the see-saw. If it’s not, then you have some real problems with spending.”

Eckert also stated that there will be no campaign or PAC formed around the sales tax election. “I’m not going to tell people how to vote. We’re just being transparent and communicating what we want to do.” The rest, he says, is left to the voters.

For more information on the election or the tax specifically, Judge Eckert can be reached at 432-498-4100.

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.