Cameron Co. Judge Claims County Failed to Effectively Explain Proposition

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BROWNSVILLE – For the second time, voters in Cameron County rejected a proposition that would've put about $1 million in the county's pocket.

Judge Eddie Trevino said Wednesday the county is partly to blame for its failure to pass.

Only rural Cameron County residents were eligible to vote, and they struck it down. The proposition would've raised the sales tax by two cents.

The current rate in the rural county is 6.25, opposed to within city limits at 8.25.

It was voted down by about the same margin last November.

Treviño told CHANNEL 5 NEWS he is disappointed that the county is losing out on that money that would've been generated for the county.

"That money is allocated solely for the benefit of those individuals that live out in the rural areas," he said.

He believes the county didn't explain the measure well enough to voters.

"We cannot expand county funds either for or against something, so we probably didn't do a good job, and can do a better job of getting the information out to advise the (voters) what it's really for," Trevino said.

Voters may have confused the sales tax for a property tax, he said and didn't realize the measure called for something they are already doing every time they shop in the city.

"The cities get the benefit of that sales tax, whereas the mom-and-pop stores, that are on the outside of the cities in the county, that 2 percent sales tax that we were asking them to approve, would've gone right back to benefit them," he explained. 

Cameron County Manager David Garcia said without the extra money, the county has to go back to searching for funds they can qualify for.

"Probably our first option is to try to get grants, and to see how we can partner with other entities," Garcia said.

The county wants to keep improving lighting and public safety in the rural areas, he added, but there isn't always enough money to go around.

Treviño said right now, it's too early to tell if the county will put this measure to a vote a third time.

He said the commission doesn't want to raise property taxes.

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