Rural sales tax could increase

HARLINGEN — Gus Ruiz said he will be promoting a proposal for the November ballot that will pay for recreational facilties, road improvements, public services and other county projects.

But, he will be leading the charge off county time as a private citizen.

The proposal seeks approval from the voters in rural districts to create a County Assistance District.

If approved by the voters, it will raise the sales tax by two percent or keep it the same in the rural areas of the county as it is in the city.

Ruiz said the county tax on businesses outside city limits is currently 6.25 percent and the proposal would make it equal to the 8.25 percent amount businesses pay in sales tax within a city limit.

“It’s going to be huge for our precinct,” Ruiz said. “With the added funds from the County Assistance District I will work to fix the roads, parks and promote economic development in Pct. 4.”

Ruiz said the District would create a revenue stream to pay for rural projects throughout the county.

“We have very limited resources, limited funds and our dollar can only stretch so far,” Ruiz said. “As much as we would like to target everybody we can’t target everybody.”

This District, if approved, will create an added funding source to the county to help boost projects and pay for parks, libraries, recreational facilities, museums, services that benefit the public health and welfare of county residents.

Recently, county officials learned there is a two-percent sales tax that can be levied in areas outside city limits to make it equal to what cities can levy. Those funds can be used on rural county programs and projects.

“We voted unanimously to have the election for a Public Assistance District,” Ruiz said. “If it passes, it could generate about $1 million in sales tax.”

Ruiz said the objective of this district tax is to raise annual revenue and to leverage those dollars that are collected to fund projects and close the funding gap on grants and quality of life projects that may require a funding match.

Ruiz said $1 million if leveraged to its maximum potential can add up to as much as $10 million or more.

“Rural residents are asking for more services and want a quality of life similar to city residents,” said Judge Pete Sepulveda, Jr., Cameron County judge. “We are hearing this almost every week from our constituents and with their support in this election we hope to carry forward this program so that every corner of this county can enjoy the overall environment and neighborhoods where they work and play every day.”