City voters will decide extension of street maintenance tax, elect council

Voters living within the City of Liberty Hill will decide Saturday the future of a 1/4 cent sales tax for street maintenance in addition to choosing a Mayor and two members of the city council.

At the close of early voting Tuesday, only 27 ballots had been cast in three contested races for Mayor and city council. Officials say 43 early ballots were cast in the special election on extension of the street maintenance tax. Early voting on the tax extended over eight days, while early voting in the council election was limited to two days.

Election Day is Saturday and voters may cast ballots from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Municipal Court Building, 2801 RR 1869.

The 1/4 cent sales tax is not a new tax. It was first approved by voters in 2002 and requires voter reauthorization every four years. The tax generates about $100,000 in revenue for the City that is used entirely to maintain city streets.

City Manager Greg Boatright said the City has about $300,000 in its street maintenance fund at the present time. Currently, the City is resurfacing four streets and bids are being accepted for major improvements to Bluebonnet Lane.

“That will leave us about $100,000 in the account for budgeting for 2014-2015 to resurface additional streets,” he said.

Boatright explained that the revenue from the tax is generated from the sale of items within the city.

“The City is allowed (by state law) two cents above the state sales tax,” Boatright said. “The tax is paid by those who go through our town buying products.”

Unlike ad valorem taxation that is linked to the value of one’s residential or commercial property, the street maintenance sales tax is shared by all those who utilize Liberty Hill thoroughfares.

In addition to the 1/4 cent for street maintenance, 1/2 cent is for Economic Development Corp., 1/4 cent is for the Liberty Hill Public Library, and 1 cent goes to the City’s General Operating Fund.

Boatright said in the past, the City has been slow to use the revenue to make improvements to city streets. He said he would like to see projects identified and funded annually at budget time.

“We need to be on a regular schedule for street maintenance,” he said.

Boatright said if voters do not extend the tax Saturday, money for street maintenance would have to be taken directly from the General Operating Fund. Revenue for that fund comes from ad valorem taxes as well as some sales tax.

“It would take away from the other services we provide, such as police,” he said.

Most cities in Texas have designated a 1/2 cent for street maintenance, Boatright said.

In addition to the street maintenance tax extension, Liberty Hill voters will decide the outcome of three contested council races.

In the race for Mayor, incumbent Jamie Williamson is being challenged by sitting Councilmember Connie Fuller, also a former Liberty Hill mayor. Mrs. Williamson owned a newspaper that is no longer in business, and Ms. Fuller is a real estate broker. If she is not elected Mayor, Ms. Fuller retains her Place 1 position on the council.

In Place 2, voters will decide between Dr. Ron Rhea, a pastor at Life Springs Church, and David Wise, a businessman and rancher.

Place 4 incument Wendell McLeod is being challenged by sitting Councilmember Vicki Brewer, who currently holds the Place 2 seat. McLeod is former manager of the Liberty Hill Water Supply Corp. and is retired from the Internal Revenue Service. Mrs. Brewer is the financial manager for a local business.

With the exception of Wise, all other candidates submitted campaign announcements for publication in The Independent and participated in a survey that was published in the April 24 and May 1 editions of the newspaper. The articles may be found online at www.LHIndependent.com.

Election results will be posted online and as Breaking News Saturday on the newspaper’s Facebook page.