Cameron County Assistance District
Election Day – November 8, 2016
Visitors Tax Brochure
The Texas Legislature created a special funding for counties and cities to develop certain legally defined venue projects designed to provide recreational, athletic, convention, and civic opportunities to their residents and visitors. Many counties have used this funding to create stadiums or in support of professional athletic teams. Revenues from the 2.0% hotel occupancy tax and the 5.0% car rental tax will be used to construct facilities to take advantage of the ecological natural beauty our coastal county is known around the county to have.
How will the funds be used?
Project 1: The County is creating an Ecological Nature Center to be located on 23 acres provided by the Town of Laguna Vista located just south of Highway 100 between the Laguna Madre Bay and the Bahia Grande wetlands. This unique area is home to animals such as the ocelot, plants and marine life that is not found anywhere else. This Center will house exhibits detailing the natural beauty of the region, it will have outlooks that will provide access to the many birds of the local wetlands, information about things to do and see in our coastal area, there will be kayak paddling trails and the Center will intersect the rural trails being created throughout the Bahia Grande.
South Texas Eco-Tourism Center on the Bahia Grande initial project cost estimate is planned to be $10 million for construction.
Project 2: The Sea & Air Amphitheater is designed to accommodate visitors who gather to witness a rocket launch just across the ship channel at the Boca Chica launch site, or enjoy a concert featuring local musical artist or national entertainment acts. This multi-purpose facility is planned for construction at the Dolphin Cove site on the southern-most tip of South Padre Island.
Sea & Air Amphitheater project cost is
approximately $1.5 million for construction.
(design of possible amphitheater)
Who will pay the visitor tax?
Hotel guests visiting and staying in lodging facilities will pay this visitors fee. A 2006 study showed that a majority of those paying the hotel fee from this study were not from Cameron County. Guests who stay in hotels in Brownsville, Harlingen, San Benito or the other county cities are almost all from outside the county.
When can I vote on the visitor tax?
All registered voters in Cameron County can vote on election day, November 8, 2016, or during the early voting period in the days before the general election.
Where do I go to vote?
The general election polling places will be published in the newspaper prior to the election. For a list of voting locations consult the County elections website https://cameroncountytx.gov/elections/
For More Information
Find out more about these projects by calling the County Administrative Office at (956) 982-5414.
What is a county assistance district?
A county assistance district is a governmental body created through an election by a majority vote of the registered voters within a described area. Registered voters decide on whether to implement a sales tax on eligible sales within the district to fund improvements or programs.
How much will that sales tax be?
The district is proposing a 2% sales tax. This potion will make the total sales tax rate to be 8.25%. This is the same rate levied by most cities in the county and the maximum allowed.
If you made a $10.00 purchase of products eligible for sales tax you would pay a total of $10.85, the same amount as you would in the cities of Brownsville, Harlingen, or San Benito.
How can the sales tax revenues be used?
A district may use funds for the following purposes:
(1) the construction, maintenance, or improvement of roads or highways;
(2) the provision of law enforcement and detention services;
(3) the maintenance or improvement of libraries, museums, parks, or other recreational facilities;
(4) the provision of services that benefit the public health or welfare, including the provision of firefighting and fire prevention services; or
(5) the promotion of economic development and tourism.
Who can vote on this district referendum?
Only those registered voters who live in the district boundaries.
What are the district boundaries?
The district is county-wide except for those areas that are within territories of any one of the 17 cities, towns, or village within the county. Those living with in the cities of Brownsville, Harlingen, San Benito, Los Fresnos, La Feria, Port Isabel, Ranch Viejo, City of South Padre Island, Laguna Vista, Bayview, Los Indios, Combes, Primera, Santa Rosa, Los Indios, Indian Lake, and Rangerville cannot vote on the measure.
When Can I vote?
Election Day is November 8, 2016. Early voting will be held in the days prior to Election Day. A listing of polling places where you can cast your vote will be published in the Brownsville Herald and Valley Morning Star and also on the Cameron County website: https://cameroncountytx.gov/elections/
Are there many businesses located in the county that are found outside city limits?
The State Comptroller’s Office has identified 1,136 sales tax permit holders who only collect at the 6.25% state only level.
What is the amount of the estimated eligible sales within the district?
The State Comptroller’s Office estimates that the eligible sales could total as much as $47,500,000 in sales which could generate up to $950,000 annually.
Can these funds pay for street light and sidewalk construction?
Neighborhood street lights and sidewalks in the rural areas qualify under “the provision of services that benefit the public health or welfare.”
For more information contact:
Pete Sepulveda, Jr., County Administrator
Ph: (956) 982-5414 | Fax (956) 983-5099
Cameron County Courthouse
Oscar C. Dancy Building
1100 E. Monroe Street, Suite 256
Brownsville, Texas 78520