September 20, 2023 340 PM
Ten in Texas, an independent film produced by Sam Pfiester, premiered last Friday night at the Crowley Theater. The Crowley, an outstanding venue, was the best option in the entire area for our sold-out crowd. I noticed that we were one of many events, including concerts the day before and after. Over the years, I have enjoyed countless programs, concerts, plays, musicals, and other cultural events.
The Crowley hosted us and provided audio and visual support free of charge. I know that we all get to enjoy the offerings of the Crowley at little to no cost thanks to the generosity and hard work of Tim and Rob Crowley. We are all very grateful for their substantial contribution to our community. No small community in the country enjoys as much cultural fare as Marfa does, and the center of that hub is the Crowley Theater.
Marfa and Alpine
Hello Presidio County and greetings from Portugal,
I wanted to let y’all know we have started to settle in to life in a new country and our four daughters have all started school here. Exciting times as we move forward in our life. After 15 years of being in Marfa, I have seen a lot and met many great people and watched many stories in the news come and go. There is one story that has always been around, the county’s budget shortfall. In one way or the other, it is always in the news and never has any real progress made towards a solution. The county must run a balanced budget, and in order to do that, the only tool they have is to raise property rates and valuation. It’s no surprise when the news story runs year after year after year, and you as a property owner or renter pay will pay the bill every time, and it’s still not enough.
Last week in the commissioners court I spoke about a very simple and sustainable solution to this issue. Counties in Texas have two primary sources of income: one is from property tax collected every year, and the other is from sales tax which is collected every time someone buys anything taxable. Currently, Presidio County collects $0 in sales tax revenue on sales.
The state of Texas has an upper limit of 8.25% that can be charged in total sales tax. The state will receive 6.25% which leaves a remaining maximum of 2% to be divided between cities, counties and special-use districts. Currently, in Presidio County that division is:
City of Marfa sales tax 1.75%
City of Presidio sales tax 1.5%
Presidio Municipal Development District .5%
County sales tax 0% = 0
Presidio total tax rate 8.25%
Marfa total tax rate 8%
Outside city limits 6.25%
What this means for taxable purchases –– if you bought $100 worth of art painting supplies in Marfa, with sales tax your total would be $108. If you bought $100 worth of house painting supplies in Presidio, your total would be $108.25. A small increase of 25 cents. But when multiplied times all taxable purchases in the county, it becomes a very large revenue stream that is currently not being collected or received. Grocery store food and agricultural purchases are not subject to sales tax.
In Texas 124 of the 254 counties impose a county sales tax; 3/4 of those counties have a 1.5% /.5% arrangement for the city and county respectively
To look at what these tiny numbers mean to the actual budgets of the entities, we can look at the total dollar amount of the actual payments the state comptroller issued to each entity for sales and use tax collected in their area.
Total received in 2022 sales tax allocation payments made from the comptroller:
City of Marfa $746,448.27
City of Presidio $493,952.87
Presidio County $0 in sales tax revenue
A theoretical 1.5% /.5% arrangement using 2022 sales receipts at an estimated $62 million in county-wide taxable receipts is:
City of Marfa $649,000
City of Presidio $494,000
Presidio County $310,000
The challenge is a rearrangement of tax rates between cities and the county allowing room for Presidio County to receive a .5% sales tax revenue. It would be a small amount for the city of Marfa to give up. It would be no change to the city of Presidio’s revenue stream, and would leave the fate of the Presidio Municipal Development District funding up to the voters. All of these entities have budget concerns that need to be respected, but the primary difference is that the cities have an additional revenue stream from utilities. The only tool that the county has is to continually raise property taxes and valuations on home owners of the county.
Elected officials will tell you that bridge and rail investments will bring in additional tax revenue, or that there is a long-term solution to this problem. All those solutions require multinational federal cooperation, huge infrastructure, private investment, big trucks, and a whole lot of things going perfect, and THEN all the assets would be either government owned, or receive tax abatements and not pay property taxes. While I support the rail/bridge project, it does not directly create a revenue stream for the county, only additional obligations.
The only solution to the county’s budget shortfalls is to create a .5% sales tax rate for the ENTIRE county, otherwise they will continue to raise property taxes and still not have a balanced budget. This would solve most of the county’s budget problem without raising any taxes on the citizens, and can be done very, very quickly without support from the state, federal or international government, or industrial investment. To help solve this problem, please demand from your city and county officials that they cooperate to create this county sales tax rate. A failure from them to do so will show the elected officials have loyalty only to the cities they live in, and not Presidio County which they were elected to represent.
Now is the time for all good people to come to the aid of their country.
Out of 520,000 elected offices in our country, 75% did not have a Democrat running. Ironically, if it were not for gerrymandering, Democrats would win most races. There are many more Democratic-inclined voters than Republican voters. But they don’t always turn out to vote. Sometimes there is not a person running they want to vote for. Sometimes they are simply apathetic or not registered. Democrats are demonized every evening on Fox News and some have come to believe Fox lies and feel hopeless, demoralized.
In November 2024, Jeff Davis County voters will have a county attorney, a sheriff, a constable, a county treasurer, two county commissioners (precincts 1 and 3), a state board of education representative, U.S. senator (incumbent Ted Cruz), U.S. congressional representative for District 23 (incumbent Tony Gonzales), and state representative for District 74 (incumbent Eddie Morales) on the ballot.
County offices do not have qualifications for running other than being over 21, not a felon, and being a resident of the county or precinct. After they are elected, training is provided for the job by the state or federal government. Attendance is required. The Texas Association of Counties provides immeasurable help in learning the law related to each position.
It is not rocket science or brain surgery. You can do it!
We need names of prospective candidates, a “bench” for future elections if you will. You may have a friend, neighbor, relative, or perhaps yourself who would make a good candidate. Would you be willing to serve on our Candidate Recruitment Committee?
This is critical. We are so lucky to live in a free country with a democratic government, not a fascist government with a dictator. We need to give back in gratitude for this blessing. We cannot give up. We have grandchildren. We need more young people to run for office. Think hard!
Please come to a meeting on Saturday, September 23, at 11 a.m. at our Jeff Davis County Democratic Party office at 103 State Street to discuss offices up for election. In addition, if we just hold this meeting, we receive funds from Contest Every Race for simply working on candidate recruitment.
Can you donate an hour of your spare time? Bring a friend. Call (432) 244-1034 if you have questions.
Jeff Davis County Democrats