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Seminole Council to Host Public Hearing on Proposed Sales Tax Increase Monday

Dustin Wright
Thursday, July 5, 2018

As promised, members of the Seminole City Council will allow for City of Seminole taxpayers to voice their concerns and ask questions related to a proposed half-percent sales tax increase.

That public hearing is slated for a 7 p.m. start Monday evening at the new Seminole Community Building, located at 800 N. Main St.

Members of the public are invited and encouraged to attend the meeting.

"I am curious to hear from the voters about their concerns and answer any questions they may have over what we are proposing," said Chet Clark, District 2 Councilman in a Thursday telephone interview with the Seminole Sentinel. "The decision will ultimately be up to (the voters), but I am hoping (Monday's meeting) will allow for us all to come onto the same page."

Under the half-percent sales tax increase proposal, the City of Seminole is projecting to receive roughly $700,000 annually in sales tax allocations, which would be exclusively used by the municipality for road maintenance and repairs.

Additionally, City officials say that for ever $100 in items purchased in Seminole would amount to an additional 50-cents in sales tax, under the proposed increase.

City of Seminole officials, in a recent story produced by the Seminole Sentinel, were quick to point out the proposed sales tax increase is a completely separate measure from property tax assessments, which have been a highly polarized topic within Seminole and Gaines County over the past several years.

"What we are proposing is in no way associated with a person's property taxes," said Tommy Phillips, Seminole City Administrator in a July 1 story produced by the Seminole Sentinel. "This is a proposal to add on an additional half-percent upon our local sales tax for goods and services purchased from businesses inside the Seminole city limits by those businesses who are required to assess a sales tax."

The implementation of the proposed sales tax increase required a majority-vote approval from City of Seminole taxpayers, and if approved, would have to face a re-approval process every four years, per Texas tax laws.

"We want to be as open and transparent about what we are wanting to accomplish with this proposed increase, which is use the proceeds from the half-percent sales tax increase toward the future maintenance and repair of  our local roadways," said Seminole Mayor John Belcher in the July 1 story.

Seminole City Council members began forming the process of presenting the sales tax increase proposal to the municipality's taxpayers in late May, and gave their consensus decision to allow for City Administration officials to begin the formal paperwork process in their last regular meeting, held on June 25.

Currently, the State of Texas imposes a 6.25-percent state sales and use tax on all retail sales, leases and rentals of most goods, as well as taxable services.

Monies received up to the 6.25-percent rate from sales transactions in Texas are used by the State for funding ventures.

Under Texas laws, local taxing jurisdictions (cities, counties, special purpose districts and transit authorities) can also impose up to 2-percent sales and use tax above the State level, up to a maximum combined rate of 8.25-percent.

Currently, in the City of Seminole, the municipality is assessing 1.5-percent in sales tax above the State's 6.25-percent rate, for a current total rate of 7.75-percent.

Broken down, 1-percent of the City's sales tax is used by the municipality for general fund expenditures, which include the day-to-day operations of the City of Seminole. Additionally, the remaining half-percent currently assessed in the City's sales tax is used to fund the Seminole Economic Development Corporation for it's day-to-day business operations.

Also on Monday
In their lone business item Monday evening, Seminole City Council members will consider a request from the Seminole EMS, who is seeking Hotel/Motel occupancy funds to help defray costs associated with an upcoming event to be hosted by the medical agency.

During an administrative report on Monday evening, Seminole City Council members will receive an update on recent sales tax allocations received by the municipality and an update on a wrecked Seminole Volunteer Fire Dept. truck.