Road tax election called
Polk County Enterprise, March 2007
LIVINGSTON – Polk County commissioners voted Tuesday to add a referendum for a 5 cent road tax to the May 12 general election ballot.
“We’ve been struggling for a long time to figure out how to do additional road work,” County Judge John Thompson said.
The county is responsible for 800-plus miles of road
“The amount of money they’ve been getting has gone up, regardless of what Commissioner Purvis says,” Thompson continued. “The reality is we still have a huge (funding) shortage for them to improve roads like they’d like to.”
Thompson added a number of funding mechanisms have been explored, including road bonds. Typically the proceeds from road bonds are spent in the first five to 10 years. Then taxpayers spend the next 15 years paying them back, he said.
That leaves no money to maintain them and we find ourselves upside-down – owing money on an asset that is losing value.
If voters approve the proposition, proceeds of the 5-cent road tax would be set aside in a separate fund that would be used only for roads and would not replace any existing road and bridge funds set aside from the county’s general fund, according to Thompson.
“This is not a shell game,” Thompson said.
The road tax would be a separate item on property tax statements and the county auditor would be charged with monitoring how the funds are spent.
The tax would generate about $975,000 per year, according to Polk County Tax Assessor Bid Smith.
Smith said the average value of a home in Polk County is currently valued at $54,770. If voters approve the road tax, the homeowner would be billed an additional $25.88 for that average home.
The first $3,000 of property listed as a homestead would be exempt, Smith added.
Thompson said his office will distribute further information on the additional tax for property valued at $25,000, $50,000 and $100,000 to ensure voters have an accurate picture of the impact on their tax bills.
There will not be an exemption for taxpayers over age 65 or with disabilities.
The referendum will be one of two items on the county ballot in the May 12 election.
The other item is a proposed amendment to the Texas constitution that reduces property taxes for elderly or disabled property owners.
The ballot will read:
"The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for a reduction of the limitation on the total amount of ad valorem taxes that may be imposed for public school purposes on the residence homesteads of the elderly or disabled to reflect any reduction in the rate of those taxes for the 2006 and 2007 tax years."
Early voting on these two items will begin April 30 and run through May 8.
Voters can cast a ballot in the main courthouse, or sub-courthouse locations in Corrigan and Onalaska during regular business hours or between 8 a.m. and noon Saturday, May 5.
On Election Day May 12, polling sites will be consolidated to five sites, according to a measure commissioners passed Tuesday.
The sites are:
n Livingston City Hall – Precincts 3, 4, 7, 16 and 18
n Onalaska Sub-Courthouse – Precincts 5, 6, and 17.
n Escapee’s Care Center – Precincts 1, 2, 15, 19 and 20
n Corrigan Sub-Courthouse – Precincts 8, 9, 10 and 11
n Indian Springs P.O.A. –Precincts 12, 13, and 14