Cameron Co. Seeks Voter Approval on Sales Tax Increase for Rural Areas

3 years 2 months 3 weeks ago Tuesday, October 31 2017 Oct 31, 2017 October 31, 2017 5:37 PM October 31, 2017 in News

BROWNSVILLE – Cameron County voters heading to the polls will have to decide on a proposed two percent sales tax increase for rural county areas.

The proposition has been rejected once before, but Cameron County manager David Garcia tells CHANNEL 5 NEWS, if approved this time, it could help fund vital community projects.

Christopher Galarza works at a corner store on the outskirts of San Benito. He said his customers are very observant, especially when it comes to pricing.

"They count cent by cent, they check the ATM as soon as it goes through if they used a card," Galarza said.

He said a two cent sales tax increase likely won't stop regulars from coming in, but they might not stay quiet about it.

"They're going to notice it and ask questions about it," Galarza said.

Cameron County commissioners are presenting once again a proposal to change the sales tax in rural areas from 6.25 percent to 8.25 percent.

Garcia said the current rate in the rural areas is set by the state. But voters have the last say on the increase.

"It would generate about $900,000 to a $1 million per year," Garcia said. "So, we can leverage those funds to build projects over the course of five to 10 years out."

The Cameron County Assistance District would help pay for projects like lighting in colonias, and mosquito and insect removal.

Cameron County Health Administrator Esmeralda Guajardo said, right now, 85 percent of the health department's budget is funded by grants.

Guajardo said more resources are needed to continue the year-round efforts on mosquito control.

"It used to be that we would be able to provide mosquito spraying when it was the hottest time," she said, "but now, when there's a threat associated that affects public health, we realize that we have to do it year round. And with that, there's always a shortage of funds, shortage of resources."

Garcia said approval of this measure would be greatly beneficial to the county.

Voters turned it down the last time it showed up on the ballot in November 2016.

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