Marfa Public Radio 2020 News Series Murrows Submission

Tipping Point

A series examining tourism-driven change for better or for worse in Far West Texas, and how our communities are thinking about the future.

Tourists take photos at the Stardust Marfa sign just west of city limits. (Sally Beauvais / Marfa Public Radio)

Marfa Reacts To County’s Decision Granting Late Night Serving Hours To Local Businessman

In the small West Texas town of Marfa, it’s common knowledge that you can’t buy a drink at a bar after midnight most nights of the week. But that may change soon ⁠— at least for one new establishment businessman Tim Crowley has in the works.

County officials approved his request for late night serving hours at a meeting in Presidio, 60 miles south of Marfa. That’s after⁠ — back in 2016 ⁠— they shot down the same request from a different business, when a packed house of residents showed up to a meeting in Marfa to voice their opposition.

The decision has some residents asking questions about transparency⁠ — and how local elected officials are making choices about the community’s future.



Marfa Residents Grapple With What Proposed Festival Could Mean For Town

Mayor Ann Marie Nafziger says Austin-based company C3 Presents is planning a festival for at least 5,000 on a ranch outside of Marfa’s city limits. (Carlos Morales / Marfa Public Radio)

In early 2019, local officials announced that C3 Presents, the company behind major festivals like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits, was planning an art and music festival for at least 5,000 people on a ranch outside of Marfa. That’s more than double the town’s population.

While officials and residents await more information from the tight-lipped company, many are grappling with what a festival this size could mean for Marfa.



Marfa Homeowner Fights Property Tax Lending Company To Keep Her House

Maria Benavides sits in her home in Marfa, Texas. Recently she fell behind on her property taxes and sought the help of a lending company. But now she owes almost three times what she did back in 2016. (Sally Beauvais / Marfa Public Radio)

Texans have one of the highest property tax burdens in the nation. This year state lawmakers adopted reform to slow the growth of property taxes in the future. But many struggle to pay what they already owe.

In recent years, homeowners have felt this strain more acutely in the popular West Texas tourist town of Marfa — where taxing authorities have been hiking up appraisal values to try and keep in step with rising market prices.

For one elderly Marfa resident who fell behind on her property taxes, navigating the system has turned into the worst case scenario. Now, she’s fighting a lending company to keep the house she’s lived in for more than two decades.

About Sally Beauvais

Sally Beauvais reports on rural issues in Far West Texas. She also runs Marfa Public Radio's engagement efforts.
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