Commissioners give sales tax status update

Ector County Commissioners reinstated a commitment to Precinct 1 residents that ensures the soon-to-be implemented sales tax will lend funding to add law enforcement, repair deteriorating roads and combat illegal dumping.
Ector County Judge Debi Hays and Precinct 1 Commissioner Eddy Shelton met with constituents on Tuesday during a town hall to lay out what impact the sales tax will have for residents and when it will go into effect.
“I think there was a misconception that when we voted on the tax in November that it would become active Jan. 1, 2019,and that was not the case,” Hays said.
Commissioners have scheduled a total of three public forums this week to serve as an update on the sales tax passed by voters during the last election cycle.
In November, county residents approved a proposition to levy a sales tax of 1.25 cents per dollar and create an assistance district in all of Ector County outside the city limits of Odessa and Goldsmith.
The sales tax was raised to the maximum rate allowed by state law, 8.25 percent, and is on par with the sales tax applied within city limits.
Hays said businesses have received letters in the mail as of this month informing them of the change that will go into effect April 1.
“It took us January and February to identify all of those locations and make sure the list we received from the comptroller’s office didn’t have companies on there that were not in the county or companies that were really in the county but not on our list,” Hays said.
The county judge clarified that although voters approved the item in 2018, the county would not see any income from the sales tax until July.
Commissioners estimate the sales tax revenue could add between $12-15 million annually to the county’s budget. Hays said a more conservative ballpark figure would equate to about $3 million each quarter.
Shelton said the collected revenue would go toward getting more deputies on patrol, adding personnel to the county’s environmental enforcement unit and improving infrastructure. Commissioners did not pin down which precinct would get the most aid but repeated talking points prior to the election.
“The goal is to supply the need,” Shelton said. “Where the need is greatest is where we want to focus all our efforts.”