San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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October 23rd, 2009
Dripping Springs ESD voids own election

STAFF REPORT

An emergency services district (ESD) in the Dripping Springs area had to call off its Nov. 3 election for a sales tax increase last week because of a conflict with another sales tax election.

Hays County Emergency Services District No. 6, which covers 281 square miles and supports fire departments in Dripping Springs, Driftwood and Henly, had hoped it could add a penny to the sales tax to help fund nine new firefighters. However, it turns out that the 500-acre Driftwood Economic Development Municipal District (MMD) within ESD No. 6 also is holding a sales tax election.

With the sales tax in ESD No. 6 currently at seven cents, the ESD hoped to add a penny through the election, while the MMD sought 1.25 cents. If both elections had succeeded, though, then the sales tax would have reached 9.25 cents, thus exceeding the 8.25-cent maximum allowed by Texas law.

In that event, said Cliff Avery, a spokesman for the ESD, both elections would have been voided.

“It’s not going out on a limb to say the (ESD) board was disappointed,” Avery said.

The Hays County Elections office said the item remains on the ballot for voters within the ESD because the election wasn’t cancelled until it was too late for removal. However, said the elections office, the votes will not be counted.

ESD No. 6 has received a sliding federal grant that will pay 90 percent of the cost for nine new firefighters during the first year, with that percentage diminishing until the grant is entirely elapsed in the fifth year.

ESD officials said they could “carve out” areas that already levy the maximum sales taxes in a future election. In that case, the ESD could hold an election that would levy the new tax everywhere in the ESD except for the City of Dripping Springs, where the sales tax already is 8.25 cents, and the MMD, if its Nov. 3 election succeeds.

Avery said the ESD couldn’t carve out the MMD for the Nov. 3 election because the exclusion can only be applied where the sales tax already is in place.

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