The creation of a Harrison County assistance district failed with a total of 698 — or 34.07 percent of voters — voting in favor and 1,351 — or 65.93 percent — rejecting the tax option, final results from Tuesday’s election show.
For the two weeks of early voting, a total of 306 — or 37.82 percent — voted for the option while 503 — or 62.18 percent — voted against. Four of the ones that voted in favor of the proposition were absentee voters; and 17 that voted against were absentee voters.
The Harrison County Commissioners Court previously approved the adoption of an order calling for an election for the creation of the Harrison county assistance district No. 1 which would consist of imposition of a sales and use tax at the rate of 2 percent for the purpose of financing the operations of the district with said election to be placed on the Nov. 2 ballot.
The court voted back in May to place the sales and use tax on the ballot. If passed, funds from the sales tax would’ve been allotted for the sheriff’s department, litter control, emergency services district as designated by the commissioners court, and for county roads.
Chapter 387 of the Local Government Code allows for the creation of a county assistance district, which would enable the county to capture tax revenue from those traveling through the county.
The creation of the Harrison County assistance district would’ve imposed a sales and use tax at the rate of 2 percent in areas outside of incorporated cities, providing an additional resource to help fund some needed county services.
If passed, it was to be used 85 percent for roads within the county and 15 percent for other services.
Although the special election failed, County Judge Chad Sims said he still believes a sales tax is the fairest tax option available.
“It is certainly better than property tax, however we have one of the lowest property tax rates around,” he said. “The commissioners and I want to keep it that way. We’ve worked hard to come up with an alternative, which is the county assistance district. The easiest thing would be for us to just continue doing what we are doing and not look for ways to improve our county.
“The whole commissioners court has worked hard to lay out a plan that we believe is best for the county,” said Sims. “We have nothing personal to gain in this. We would pay the increased tax just like everyone else. We think the benefit to the county greatly outweighs the cost of this minimal tax.”
Judge Sims said the court may consider putting the option on the ballot again.
“We believe it is a much better alternative to a property tax increase,” he said. “We’ll just have to do a better job educating the voters. Would I change anything? I would consider dedicating 100 percent of the funds from the tax solely to county roads. We have other needs in the county like sheriff deputies, litter abatement and ESD needs, but I think it may be better for the county to focus only on county roads with these funds.”
For the Constitutional Amendments, final numbers show that 2,751 Harrison County residents voted for Proposition 1 and 539 voted against.
For Proposition 2, final numbers show that 1,830 Harrison County residents voted in favor and 1,456 voted against.
For Proposition 3, final numbers show that 2,556 Harrison County residents voted in favor and 739 voted against.
For Proposition 4, early voting numbers show that 1,975 Harrison County residents voted in favor and 1,247 voted against.
For Proposition 5, final numbers show that 2,008 Harrison County residents voted in favor and 1,212 voted against.
For Proposition 6, final numbers show that 2,893 Harrison County residents voted in favor and 375 voted against.
For Proposition 7, final numbers show that 2,934 Harrison County residents voted in favor and 342 voted against.
For Proposition 8, final numbers show that 2,949 Harrison County residents voted in favor and 318 voted against.
The final tally for the New Diana Independent School District special election shows a tie vote, with 9 voting in favor and 9 voting against.