City of Odessa, Ector County dispute over sales taxes
ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) -
The City of Odessa and Ector County aren’t happy with each other.
Odessa has decided it wants to go after what has been up until now sales taxes exclusively earmarked for the county. At a press conference Wednesday, Mayor David Turner explained he thinks the city needs this money to properly handle business trying to come into Odessa.
He said all this confusion about who should get these sales taxes started with a decision made at the state level.
The mayor said back in 2018, Ector County voters approved the sales tax, but that agreement changed after the ballots were cast. He said the Texas comptroller changed the language of the agreement to say that if the city annexed any land the sales taxes would still end up going to the county.
Turner said that’s a problem because businesses wanting to be annexed by the city expect services the city will have difficulty affording.
“And we do not have the money just on the ad valorem taxes to put in that sewer, put in that water and that will burden our taxpayers,” Turner said.
But this announcement didn’t go over well with everyone in the county.
Sheriff Mike Griffis said he felt the city was trying to pull a fast one and take money that belongs to the county.
“It tore me up,” Griffis said at the meeting. “I tell you my blood pressure rose through the roof and the Odessa American spoke to me when I was pretty daggum mad.”
The mayor said they’re having the attorney general figure out if changing the tax agreement was legal. Either way, he said the City of Odessa has to figure out a way to fund services at annexed businesses or the city will pay the price.
“It would take us about 30 years to pay for the water lines, the sewer lines, the streets, curb and gutter,” Turner said. "All of that. And that’s just you can’t do that because it’s limiting your growth.
He said he hopes it doesn’t come to that and the city and county can find a solution that works for both of them.
We also tried to speak to a few county commissioners but they declined to comment
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