Sales tax or property tax?
It is important to clear up misconceptions regarding the Ellis County safety and security 0.5 percent sales tax so that voters know exactly what is going on. The question the commission needs to have the voters answer is this: Does Ellis County pay for these projects with a sales tax or an increase in property taxes?
The projects involved are renovation of the jail, renovations of the courthouse to secure it and separate prisoners from the public, and the building of a new combined EMS and rural fire facility to be located on the property located at 22nd Street and General Hays Road. The estimates and top amount agreed to by the commission is $12.5 million, to an approximate total of $14.32 million with interest.
This sales tax, if passed, will sunset in five years or when the bonds are paid off, whichever comes first. If the tax sunsets before the bonds are fully paid off, the balance will be taken care of within the county budget.
These projects are essential and have to be done. EMS is in a small building that functioned well when only 11 people worked there -- now they have 41. Rural fire packs five vehicles into a 3,040-square-foot building -- in a fire situation time is of the essence, yet they have to maneuver the trucks around to get the right one out.
More than 10 years ago, the need for these projects was determined. In the last three years, there has been another space needs committee that has determined we are at critical mass and must get these projects completed. Now the question is, how do you want to pay for them? Do you want a sales tax or do you want to pay for it with an increase of your property taxes? It is up to you.
If you would like to tour any of the buildings or have any questions please feel free to call any of us, and we can answer your questions and help you see the facilities.
Dean Haselhorst, Swede Holmgren and Barbara Wasinger, Ellis County commissioners