County official talks positives of referendum

SANTA MARIA — County Commissioner Gus Ruiz continues to champion the benefits of a tax referendum to voters.

This week, heading into the last days of early voting, Ruiz visited with a group of resident voters in Santa Maria to talk about the benefits of a County Assistance District.

“If this proposal passes, it would generate about $1 million dollars. This money is badly needed to fix the infrastructure in unincorporated areas in Cameron County,” said Ruiz, Cameron County commissioner for Precinct 4.

If approved by voters, the assistance district would be a governmental body created to address the needs of the people who live in the rural areas.

At the same time, a 2 percent sales tax increase in the rural district would be imposed to raise funds for use only in the rural areas.

Ruiz said in an earlier interview 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 consumers 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 Precinct 4.”

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

Recently, county officials learned there is a 2-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.

This proposal was voted down last year.

By the Numbers


• A 2 percent sales tax is being


• Will elevate most rural retailers to

8.25 percent sales tax

• Same rate levied by most cities in the county


• It is estimated the eligible sales in the proposed rural district could total as much as $48 million.

• $950,000 annually for rural improvements.


• Installing streets lights

• Mosquito spraying

• Disaster response

• Fire prevention services

• Road repair

• Libraries

• Recreational facilities

• Economic development