Washington County Residents Vote In Favor of Tax Rollback

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The property tax in Washington County will rollback to its previous rate. The issue passed Saturday night with 55.7 percent of the votes.

More than 1,600 votes were cast in favor of the current tax rate of eight cents returning to five cents.

Those who wanted the higher tax rate to remain in place totalled 1,317 votes, or about 44.3 percent of the election results.

An opponent of the original three cent raise in Washington County's property tax approved by Blinn College's board of trustees said the board was warned that the increase would be fought. Pat Elliott is the chairman of the grassroots group, "The Committee for Fair Taxation in Washington County," and says the committee and other opponents petitioned for Saturday's tax rollback election to be held.

"We told them if they did this, that we were going to roll it back," Elliott said.

The board of trustees passed the property tax increase in August 2006 to generate revenue to fund repairs and renovations like new roofs to Blinn College's Brenham campus. But opponents say they do not think property taxes should supply those funds.

County residents had the opportunity to vote before Saturday. They were able to cast ballots until this past Tuesday. One Washington County resident says considering there was one item on the ballot, the turnout was big. According to Judge Gurtrude Schrader, over 1,400 residents took advantage of early vote.

Before the results were tallied, Blinn College President Don Voelter said he hoped those numbers will keep the tax rate where it currently is.

"What I am hearing is that a good early turn out would be favorable for Blinn College," Voelter said.

But Elliott believes that same turnout means good news for the opposition.

"I think we will be very successful in this election," Elliott said, "victorious and by a nice margin.

The election has certainly been a topic of conversation throughout the county. Kirk Hanath said there is strong opinions on both sides of the issue.

"There is been some very heated debate over this issue," Hanth said. "As always there is [debate when you talk about] property tax."

Voelter says despite the election's final numbers, Blinn College will still have to have upgrades.

"These needs will still exist and we'll still have to sit down and look at priorities," Voelter said.