Sulphur Bluff and Sulphur Springs Elementary schools have announced two students each who are advancing to the regional science fair contest after earning top honors at the school contest; top winners from each level were also announced.
Members of Hopkins County Commissioners Court were in Austin last week to meet with State Rep. Dan Flynn and State Sen. Bob Hall seeking support for proposed legislation that could change the way the county pays for the new county jail. Just more than a year ago, county voters approved a $16 million bond issue to fund construction of a new county detention center. To repay the loan, a majority of county voters agreed to a six-cent increase in the county's ad valorem tax rate. However, County Judge Robert Newsom said county officials proposed an idea to lawmakers which calls for the use of money generated by the half-cent sales tax the county collects on retail sales to help pay the jail bonds. “Our proposal is that we would like to lower that property tax by using our half-cent sales tax,” Newsom said. “This could well bring in enough money to pay our annual debt on the jail, which is a 20-year note.” A number of years ago, the legislature and voters statewide gave approval to a measure that enabled counties to collect the half-cent sales tax with the proviso that it be used to reduce property taxes. The amount of sales tax collected by entities in the county is capped at 2 percent and the county collects the half-cent. Newsom said the annual bond payments for the jail project run about $1 million and the sales tax should easily offset that amount. In the past 12 years, the sales tax money received by the county has averaged just over $1.549 million per year. “We are going to ask the legislature, for our particular county for this particular project, to be able to raise another half-cent for this project,” Newsom said. “As taxpayers know very well, once a tax is inaugurated, it's rare that you ever see a tax go down or go away. In this case, it would written into the law that once the project is finished, the 20-year program of paying for this jail, the sales tax would automatically revert to a half-cent, property taxes would remain the same or whatever is necessary to maintain the rest of the county.But, this 20-year loan, $16 million that has been borrowed by the county to pay for this jail through a sales tax, would actually pay for the jail itself.” The commissioners court said the concept would more fairly distribute the $16 million debt to all county residents, not just the property owners. To further explain, Newsom offered this analogy. “Let's say a person who doesn't own any property, let's say he just got out of jail on bond and goes to a store and buys cigarettes or a case of beer — whatever he buys, he will pay a sales tax. More than likely, he may never pay a property tax,” he said. “So, what we are trying to do is shift the burden of paying for that jail to all the citizens rather than just the property owners.” The proposed legislation still must be written and introduced in both houses of the state legislature. If the measure is approved, it still must go before voters before property owners will see any relief from the additional six-cent increase in their tax rate.
A Saltillo man was jailed Sunday afternoon for allegedly kidnapping a woman and holding her against her will at his residence.