The city of Van Alstyne will hold elections on Saturday, May 6. The purpose of the election is to elect one mayor and two alderman for City Council in Places 4 and 5, as well as vote on three propositions intended to improve the city and its businesses.
Proposition 1 involves the termination of the Van Alstyne Economic Development Corporation and its sales, following the creation of the Van Alstyne Municipal Development District, the City of Van Alstyne website says. In addition to replacing the existing EDC with an MDD, the relegation of sales tax would also be altered.
EDC President Randy Uselton said that the change from an EDC to a MDD will allow the city to be able to utilize taxpayer’s dollars at the city’s discretion, rather than the state’s. While an EDC works with industry or service companies, an MDD can work with a multitude of businesses, including restaurants and retail stores. This would allow for greater potential of collaboration with businesses for city improvements.
“The EDC strictly deals with industrial projects or service jobs,” said Uselton. “(An MDD) will allow us to do more. It also allows us to work outside of the city limits.”
Proposition 1 also includes a property tax reduction in order to increase the money that goes to the MDD should the proposition pass for its formation.
Uselton emphasized that regardless of the decision made, the city sales tax will remain at 8.25 percent, with no possible increase or decrease. What will potentially change is where the tax money is spent.
The change would involve the MDD receiving half a percent of the sales tax, instead of the quarter percent that the EDC currently gets.
Proposition 2, the website says, involves imposing a sales and use tax within the city limits and extraterritorial jurisdiction at the rate of half a percent if the MDD passes.
Uselton said that contrary to popular belief, many citizens do want the city’s funds to also go to the ETJ , since the funding of such areas can actually prove beneficial to the city.
“MDD can work with companies to place them a little further out of city limits,” he said. “By doing so the companies can voluntarily be annexed into the city.”
Uselton added that the passing of Proposition 2 would allow for Van Alstyne to work with more areas that may be suitable for city limits than are currently available.
The tax that has the potential to change would be the ETJ tax, which would affect consumer purchases in the ETJ area, and would not directly affect businesses. The ETJ sales tax would increase a half percent from 6.25 to 6.75 percent with the passing of the proposition, which Uselton states is still a figure far well below sales tax average.
The increase in tax would be used for financing businesses that are beneficial for Van Alstyne, the city website says.
If both propositions pass, Uselton said the MDD would then be able to use the half percent sales tax from within the city limits, and a half percent sales tax from the ETJ.
“A revenue increase would allow us to have more capability of working with companies and bringing them to Van Alstyne,” Uselton said.
Proposition 3, as listed on the website, involves the reauthorization of local sales and use tax at a quarter percent to be used to fund maintenance and municipal street repair.
“We have been able to use a portion of our sales tax allocation for street repairs for four years now and we hope to be able to continue,” Mayor Larry Cooper said about Proposition 3.
Cooper said that Van Alstyne is too small to have its own street maintenance department, so the city relies on the county for street repairs, turning towards County Commissioner Jeff Whitmire.
“We are very grateful to (Whitmire) and to the portion of sales taxes that we get in order to pay for the services,” Cooper said.
Uselton said that Proposition 3 involves keeping the Van Alstyne Community Development Corporation intact with its quarter-percent sales tax funding.
If Proposition 1 passes, the CDC will now be able to work with the MDD, as opposed to the past when the CDC was unable to share tax money with the EDC. Uselton said this will allow for the MDD and CDC to pool their funds in order to incentivize companies to come to Van Alstyne
“Once again we’re able to use the city’s tax money better than we could before,” Uselton said. “The CDC can focus more on the quality of life projects within the city versus having to be the sole people responsible for brining stores to town.”
Addressing critics to the propositions, Uselton said one argument claims the city does not have the resources to carry the propositions out.
As the president of the EDC, Uselton said that while Van Alstyne did not have the resources when he first came on board, he is now confident that Van Alstyne is equipped to compete for businesses with many of the surrounding cities with higher tax rates it previously was unable to contend with.
“We’re gaining better use and latitude of using the tax payers money to benefit the city. We’re trying to do more with our resources than we currently are,” Uselton said of the propositions.
Lastly, Uselton clarified that claims of the MDD not being responsible to anybody are false. He said the MDD is responsible to the City Council, exactly how the EDC was, with the only difference being a lessening of state governance in order to allow for more city governance so that the city can directly decide what to do with its tax money.
Pertaining to the City Council votes, the current Council consists of Mayor Larry Cooper, Mayer Pro Tem and Place 5 Billy Blake, Place 4 Russell Moore, Place 3 Robert Jaska, Place 2 Timmerlie Kelly, and Place 1 Brad Clough.
The Van Alstyne Leader has previously reported the names of the election candidates. Cooper is opposed for his re-election bid by write-in candidate Kyrie Nobles.
Since Kelly opted to step away from his position due to a demanding work schedule, Teddie Ann Salmon and Jan Walker will be running for Place 2.
Additionally, Moore did not file to retain his seat. Place 4 is contended by Lee Thomas and write-in candidate Tiffany Clum.
Lastly, Plake will be seeking re-election for Place 5, with Suzon Crowell running against him.
More information about the propositions can be accessed at vanalstyneedc.com.
Van Alstyne ballots
Election Day is May 6 and voting will be held from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Ballots for the Van Alstyne city and independent school district election can be cast at Grayson College South Campus, 1455 E. Van Alstyne Parkway, Van Alstyne.
In addition to council positions, there are three propositions on the ballot.
Proposition 1 is, “Subject to the creation of the Van Alstyne Municipal Development District, shall the Van Alstyne Economic Development Corporation (Type A) be terminated with the abolition of its sales and tax for the promotion and development of new and expanded business enterprises at the rate of one-fourth of one percent; and concurrently, authorize the abolition of the additional sales and tax within the city at the rate of one-fourth of one percent to be used to reduce the property tax rate.”
Proposition 2 is, “Subject to the termination of the Van Alstyne Economic Development Corporation, authorized creation of the Van Alstyne Municipal Development District with the imposition of a sales and tax within the incorporated City Limits and extraterritorial jurisdiction of the City of Van Alstyne, Texas, which boundaries shall automatically conform to any changes in the corporate boundaries of the City at the rate of one-half of one percent for the purpose of financing development projects beneficial to the district?”
Proposition 3 is, “The re-authorization of the local sales and use tax in the City of Van Alstyne at the rate of one-fourth of one percent to continue providing revenue for maintenance and repair of municipal streets. The tax expires on the fourth anniversary of the date of this election unless the imposition of the tax is reauthorized.”
The ballot for the school board bond election includes one proposition: “The issuance of $24,000,000 of bonds by the Van Alstyne Independent School District and levying the taxes thereof.”