Lakeway to host election to reauthorize road sales tax
Thursday, April 4, 2013 |
By Dave DeOme
At the March 2013 Lakeway City Council meeting, the Lakeway General Election was cancelled, as is allowed by state law, when only four candidates volunteered to run for four open positions.
The candidates were “deemed” elected by the Council. The candidates included me for the mayor’s position and incumbent Joe Bain for councilman, as well as newcomers to the council, Jim Powell and Phil Brown. Powell has been on the City Building Commission for almost four years, and Brown has been a Zoning and Planning Commission member for more than four years.
The Lakeway City Charter limits a councilmember or mayor to three consecutive two-year terms. Councilman Alan Tye was term limited. Councilman Dennis Wallace chose not to run for a third term.
While the city will not have a general election on May 11, it will still hold a special election to renew its sales tax for road maintenance.
I believe it is in the best interest of the residents of Lakeway to participate in this election. Here’s why.
This one quarter cent sales tax is specifically dedicated to the maintenance of roads within the city. Under Texas law this type of dedicated road tax needs to be reapproved by the city of Lakeway’s voters every four years. The voters actually initiated the tax in 2001 and reapproved it in 2005 and 2009. In 2009, the tax was reapproved by a 1,102 to 287 outcome.
Last year, the Road Maintenance Tax generated $389,000. This tax has generated more than $3 million during the 12 years it has been in place.
The monies have been spent on our annual street overlay program as well as some minor and major road overlay and reconstruction projects.
The recent overlay of Lohmans Crossing from RM 620 to Lakeway Boulevard was funded by the proceeds of this tax. This section of Lohmans Crossing had not been repaved since it was built in 2001. The road had developed “alligator cracking” in the pavement in several locations, longitudinal cracking throughout the length of the road and “base failure” in three locations. In preparation for the overlay project, the three large sections of road base failure were recently repaired because the subsurface was being undermined by water intrusion.
If we had not performed the preventive maintenance overlay, the condition of the road would have deteriorated exponentially over time. Halting degradation at the right time is critical. This overlay project cost about $434,000 and was recommended by two separate engineering firms in order to maintain the road’s structure and integrity. The cost of rebuilding the road, if the city had waited a few years, would have easily exceeded $2 million.
Because this tax is a sales tax, Lakeway residents pay this tax and so do all those visitors to Lakeway who use the city’s roads when they frequent a local business (and pay a sales tax). Therefore this special election is important to all Lakeway residents.
The budgeted sales tax for road maintenance revenue for the fiscal year 2013 is $420,000. If that amount had to be raised from property taxes alone, Lakeway’s 2013 property tax rate of 18.15 cents per hundred dollars of property value would need to increase by roughly 1.6 cents.
This tax is a valuable, dedicated source of revenue that shares the pain of maintaining of our city streets among all users.
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