Tax Rollback Election Underway in Brewster County

Voters in Brewster County are deciding today whether or not to throw out a recent tax increase approved by county commissioners last summer.

A special tax rollback election is taking place across the county on Tuesday, with polling centers set to be open until 7 p.m.

It’s a simple “for” or “against” vote on whether to roll back the property tax rate from the new amount of 39.86 cents down to a “rollback rate” of 37.27 cents.

Both rates are per $100 of taxable property valuation – the county’s 2013-2014 rate was 38.26 cents.

In the fall, residents upset with the approximately two cent increase gathered enough petition signatures to hold the election.

Julianne Braun, one of the central organizers of the rollback effort and an opponent of the tax increase, said the weather and potentially icy roads could play a role in what she expects to be a low voter turnout.

“Early voting had very low turnout,” she said. “I’m sure that’s partly due to polls being closed a couple days for the New Year’s holiday and another because of bad weather.”

“I’m hoping we get a turnout at least equal to the number of voters who signed the petition to get the election,” Braun said.

South Brewster County has suffered from power outages in recent weeks due to winter weather, and this morning the county elections office confirmed the polling center in Terlingua was without power, but votes were still being cast on paper.

“They aren’t going to be able to do electronic voting, but they’re still voting,” said Jerri Jones with the elections office.

The election was originally set to take place on December 6th, but was pushed back after concerns about there being a discrepancy between the state’s election code and tax code.

Former County Judge Kathy Killingsworth opposed the rollback effort, saying the tax increase was insignificant and that the extra revenue would be used mainly for infrastructure improvements.

Newly-elected County Judge Eleazar Cano is out of town and couldn’t be reached for comment.

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