Elections staff expect 19,500 voters to turn out for city or school district races or the county’s proposition to create a 2 percent hotel occupancy tax and a 5 percent tax on short-term car rentals.
Funding for a countywide election was not set aside in this fiscal year’s budget, which ends at Sept. 30, ahead of a planned countywide election in November. Commissioners decided in February to hold the venue-tax election, County Administrator Dustin Chapman said.
County leaders hope the venue tax, if approved, will cover a $34.4 million renovation of the Extraco Events Center to allow organizers to attract larger tournaments and exhibits in a self-sustaining funding model. Tax revenue collected once the renovation is paid would be restricted to sports-related uses.
The county will pay almost 67 percent, or $84,462, of the total election cost, and the cities and school districts with races on the ballot will pay the rest.
The cities of Waco, Bellmead, Beverly Hills, Lacy Lakeview and Valley Mills; and the Connally, Lorena, Midway and Valley Mills school districts each have contested races.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners approved spending more than $220,000 for a house and land on Speegle Road to facilitate work on Speegleville Road.
The purchase will allow the county to straighten out a curve on Speegleville Road at its intersection with Speegle Road, near Highway 6, Chapman said.
The final closing cost was $221,481.06, said Mike Dixon, a Waco attorney who represents McLennan County.
“This is one that’s going to be the, I would hope, the most expensive one on the whole acquisition list,” Dixon said. “This is necessary to take out that giant curve, right after you come off 6, to try to change that out some and make that safer.”
The assessed tax value of the property is $139,650, according to McLennan County Appraisal District records.
Commissioners also approved allowing SMG, which manages special events at McLane Stadium, to use the parking lot across from the courthouse as parking for people attending The Gathering Waco on April 9.
Area churches first organized the Palm Sunday service in 2015, and this year’s event is “expected to be even larger and has the potential to overwhelm parking in the downtown area,” according to county documents. SMG will provide signage and security at the lot during the event.