Sherman residents voted nearly four-to-one in favor of continuing the city’s street sales tax when they hit the polls Tuesday. The one-eighth of a cent sales tax, which has historically seen heavy support, will continue to go toward the improvement and maintenance of existing streets across the city.
When polls closed Tuesday night, the proposition asking to continue the sales tax had received 1,968 of the 2,497 votes cast in favor — 79 percent — with 488 votes against.
“For the average person in Sherman, this equates to about $20 a year,” Sherman Community and Support Services Manager Nate Strauch said. “For that, you get about $1.3 million in street maintenance and repairs.”
The sales tax, which must be renewed every four years has proven popular with city leaders and voters alike. The tax is unusual in that it is bound by statute to be used only for the maintenance, upkeep and improvement of existing streets. The taxes cannot be used for other projects, including the construction of new roadway projects.
The tax also is largely funded by non-Sherman residents and visitors to the city. Traditionally, about 55 percent of the tax income has been paid by people from outside of Sherman, Strauch said.
For this latest renewal, the city expects to see about $1.3 million in income annually which is about $200,000 more than when the tax was last passed in 2015.
Despite the historic support for the program, which has seen upward of 90 percent support in previous renewals, city officials were watching the polls with a vested interest Tuesday night.
“Of course this tax has always had broad support, but we don’t want to take that for granted,” Strauch said.
If the tax had not passed, it would have led to a series of difficult decisions for the city regarding the current city budget and likely move funds from other programs. In total, the contributions from the sales tax pay for about half of the city’s annual street maintenance budget, Strauch said.
In a separate ballot measure, voters also approved three amendments to the city’s charter.
The first amendment changed the definitions of a partial term for the city council member for from 12 months to 18 months to reflect recent changes in term length for a council member. The amendment received 1,945 votes in favor and 471 votes against.
A second measure that allowed a city council member or mayor to serve a total of four consecutive terms between both roles passed more narrowly with 1,281 votes in favor and 1,127 votes against. Strauch said city officials expected this amendment to be closer than the other two.
“Certainly any time you make changes to term limits people are going to have a strong opinion one way or another,” he said.
The final amendment would change the term lengths of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission to mirror those of city council members also passed with 1,458 votes in favor and 809 votes against.