BlueCats (copy)

Mark Schuster, president of the Southwest League of Professional Baseball, speaks to the public in August 2016.

Staff photo — Rod Aydelotte, file

Bellmead voters Saturday elected to support a new tax on hotel stays that city leaders say will create revenue for future maintenance of a multipurpose ballpark for the Waco BlueCats.

There were 258 people, or 75 percent, who voted in support of a venue tax that would increase the city’s hotel occupancy tax from 7 percent to 9 percent. City leaders believe the move will generate about $120,000 per year.

Despite community support, the tax will not go into effect unless the proposed $12 million stadium is built. Dirt has not turned on the proposed site at Loop 340 and Research Boulevard, and a league has not yet formed for the proposed BlueCats team.

The Southwest League of Professional Baseball approached the city in 2016 with the concept for a new independent professional baseball league.

Revenue collected from the tax would go toward future work on the venue. The money will not be part of the $4 million the city proposes contributing to the stadium’s construction.

Voters will decide in four years whether to reauthorize the added hotel tax.

Voters Saturday also agreed, 295 votes to 52, to continue a 0.25 percent sales tax for street maintenance. The sales tax dedication started in 2010 and expires every four years without voter approval.

City council races

Bellmead City Council member Gary Moore defeated challenger Linda I. Robinson, 193 votes to 161. The election centered on racist posts appearing on Moore’s Facebook page. Moore has claimed his page has been hacked.

“My reaction is the citizens have spoken,” Moore said. “And they’re very pleased with the service I’ve provided and will continue to.”

Moore said Robinson’s criticism of him amounted to “trash.”

“The voters have spoken,” Robinson said, pointing to Moore’s name recognition in Bellmead.

“I am disappointed that the racism doesn’t seem to matter as much to other people as it does to me,” Robinson said. “What I’m trying to say is, I have zero tolerance for racism. I guess other people don’t. … I would like to say that I am so grateful for the people who supported me. I am so grateful for that.”

Incumbent District 4 Councilman William Boyd Ridings defeated challenger Jose R. Arrollo Jr., 46 votes to 23.

“Well, I was scared to see the final results,” Ridings said. “It’s been a long couple of weeks, and there’s been quite a bit of negativity running around. We’re just glad it’s over.”

Phillip Ericksen joined the Tribune-Herald in March 2015 as a sports copy editor. That November, he joined the news team. He has covered higher education, city hall, politics and crime.

Cassie L. Smith has covered county government for the Tribune-Herald since June 2014. She previously worked as a reporter for the Beaumont Enterprise and The Eagle in Bryan-College Station. Smith graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington.

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