Officials decide Paxton sales tax proposal failed after tied vote

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PAXTON, Neb. On November 8, 2016, Paxton voters went to the polls to decide the fate of their proposed sales tax. After all ballots were counted, the issue was tied, 134 to 134. Keith County Clerk, Sandy Olson, used state statute and the Nebraska Secretary of State office for a ruling.

State law indicated that the proposal failed since any proposal to increase taxes must have a majority vote to pass it. Olson said a tie does not give any one side a majority.

Olson says there will not be a recount. State statute does not provide a provision for a recount, or even a coin flip as for candidate races.

From Wednesday, Nov. 9th, 2016:
On Tuesday voters in Paxton had the choice to vote for or against the one-half percent Sales and Use Tax increase.

The vote is currently tied at 134.

The Keith County Clerks Office says they are still waiting to hear back from the Secretary of State's Office on what to do next.

The Nebraska Secretary of State's website says if candidate races are tied, it comes down to a coin toss. However, it does not have an answer for when propositions are tied.

Original Story: In two weeks, Paxton residents will see an issue on the general election ballot called the one-half percent Sales and Use Tax increase.

Community members say the money collected from this tax will go back into the town and help it grow.

Residents have the mindset that if you're not growing, you're falling behind.

So they believe Paxton has everything in place to expand, but this tax will give them the last bit they need to make it happen.

People living in Paxton will be voting on a half percent sales tax increase come November.

Paxton community member Betty Brown said, "Food that is served, you know the things that you buy at the lumber yard, the taxable items, the non-edibles at the grocery store, things like that."

The town already has a plan and a purpose for these funds.

Paxton community member Bill Holmstedt said, "There's been a need in this community for housing. We've had young couples that would like to come back to the community and build and we have really no areas in the community for them to do that."

The town of Paxton bought land just west of the high school to develop infrastructure and separate into lots in the hope that families will build houses there.

Holmstedt said, "This half percent tax is to help develop that area."

Brown said, "I think it's great. I mean it's probably been 10 years or better that people have said, 'If we could find a house, we would move to Paxton.' And as soon as a house comes up it's sold or rented or whatever. So there are going to be people that are going to want to build new houses."

Community members say this tax is in addition to the one percent sales tax adopted in 2002 for town up-keep.

Holmstedt said, "Well the existing one percent tax last year brought in estimated $80,000 so we're looking at approximately $40,000."

But tax increases can be a hard thing to sell.

"There's always concern in the community when there's taxes raised. But I think the basic attitude in the community is that the residents want to see the community to continue, they want the community to grow," said Holmstedt.

All together, Paxton wants this half percent increase to make it possible for more families to build homes in town.

Holmstedt said, "When it's time to actually make that happen then it takes dollars. And this is one way that we can get the ball rolling and hopefully help our community to grow and sustain."

Informational meetings will be held on October 26th and November 2nd at 7 P.M. at the Paxton Community Center.

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