The Bastrop/Travis Counties Emergency Services District #1 has called an election to adopt a sales and use tax outside the city limits of Elgin but within the District's boundaries. There is no additional sales and use tax available inside the Elgin city limits because the City collects 1.5 percent and Bastrop County collects 0.5 percent. The vote for this sales and use tax referendum will be on the ballot for the District's voters in the general election on November 5, 2019. If the proposition passes, the District would only collect sales tax outside the City.
The District's tax rate for ad valorem taxes is capped at 10 cents per $100 dollars value by the Texas Constitution. The law allows the District to collect sales and use tax, where available in the district and with voter approval, as additional revenue to support the emergency services provided by the District.
The District provides both fire suppression and medical first response to the area inside the Elgin city limits, which is within the District, and to the areas of the District that are outside the City.
The District is aware that the City has expressed concerns regarding the transparency of the District's actions related to the sales tax election and regarding the sales tax election's impact on the City's ability to encourage business to locate in the City and the surrounding community.
The District has considered the adoption of a sales and use tax for the last six years. In September of 2013, the sales tax was on the District's agenda for the first time. The District voted to table consideration of the sales tax at that time to research the possible revenues. Shortly after that meeting, the District learned that the City had taken the last available quarter of a cent sales tax available within the City in late 2007, just after the District was created. Consequently, there was no sales tax left to collect inside the City for the District to provide emergency services.
In 2018, the District learned that it could call an election for a sales tax outside of the City limits even though there was no sales tax available within the City. The sales tax discussion has been on the District's agenda in September 2018, October 2018, January 2019, April 2019, May 2019, and July 2019, when the District board called for the sales tax election. All the agendas for the District regular monthly meetings and any special meetings are available to the public and posted on the District's website, at the District office in downtown Elgin, at the Elgin fire station, and at the Bastrop and Travis County courthouses.
The District supports the City's efforts to bring new businesses to the Elgin area. The City has not contacted the District about planning or promoting this growth. If the City wants to include the District in those plans, the District is willing to participate.
Within the District, three new housing subdivisions are currently under construction. Two more are slated to begin construction in the first months of 2020. With this new construction, the District anticipates that its population will increase by approximately 24,000 to 32,000 people. The District's property tax rate is capped at $0.10 per $100 of assessed value. The District currently plans to use the additional revenue that would be generated by a sales and use tax to help fund an additional fire station or stations, acquire additional firefighting equipment, and provide additional equipment for the medical First Responder group that works in the District.
Sales Tax Facts:
- Unlike property tax, the payment of sales and use tax is collected at purchase from residents and non-residents alike.
- The maximum sales and use tax in Texas is 8.25 percent. This is the rate collected within the City.
- The state receives 6.25 percent of the sales and use tax collected. The additional 2 percent is available to other entities such as cities, metropolitan transit authorities, library districts, and among others, emergency services districts.
- The sales and use tax is imposed on all retail sales, such as clothes, shoes, and household goods; leases and rental of most goods; as well as taxable services such as lawn care, cleaning services, and pest control. Items which are not taxable include most grocery items, prescription drugs, and medical services.