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Forums to discuss county sales tax

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

Ellis County Commission Chairman Dean Haselhorst has scheduled a series of public forums for the proposed county sales tax that will be on the ballot next month.

"Biggest thing is public education," Haselhorst said of six scheduled town hall meetings, four in Hays, one in Victoria and one in Ellis.

There will be a special election May 14 for a proposed 0.5-percent county sales tax for construction of an EMS/rural fire building, as well as renovations to the county jail, Law Enforcement Center and courthouse. The estimated cost of the projects is $12 million.

"I just want public education so people for sure know what is going on, and why we're doing this," Haselhorst said.

He expected at least one county commissioner and County Administrator Greg Sund to be present at each forum, as well as some department heads.

"I'm going to try to attend as many as I can," Haselhorst said.

The county asked Hays, Victoria and Ellis for their share of the revenue from the tax in the form of an interlocal agreement. Hays agreed to contribute 100 percent of its share. That, combined with the county's share, put generated revenue for the projects at 90 percent. Ellis, Victoria and Schoenchen make up the rest.

The Ellis City Council decided Monday to give half of its share of tax revenue to the county.

"I'm sure Ellis has projects they definitely would like to do at the same time as the sales tax, if it passes," Haselhorst said.

Haselhorst said Ellis would benefit from the projects like other towns in the county, and would've preferred 100 percent contribution.

"I guess if we get half of it, it's better than none of it," he said. "I'm glad they're working with us on at least half of it."

Victoria has yet to decide on the county's request. The county will ask Schoenchen for its share at a meeting April 15.

* * *

Public forums

(all times 7 p.m.)

April 16 -- VFW, Hays

April 18 -- Knights of Columbus Hall, Victoria

April 23 -- American Legion, Hays

April 25 -- VFW, Ellis

May 8 --  VFW, Hays

May 9 -- American Legion, Hays