Small Turnout for First County Sales Tax Meeting in Hays

Ellis County Sheriff Ed Harbin explains that law enforcement must plan operations such as DUI checkpoints, around whether there is room in the jail.  Harbin was one of the presenters at Tuesday's public meeting about the county's proposed half-cent sales tax.

Ellis County Sheriff Ed Harbin explains that law enforcement must plan operations, such as DUI checkpoints, around whether there is room in the jail. Harbin was one of the presenters at Tuesday’s public meeting about the county’s proposed half-cent sales tax.

It’s going to happen.”

During a public information meeting Tuesday night at the  Hays VFW, Ellis County Commission chairman Dean Haselhorst said if the proposed half-cent county sales tax fails, “‘Plan B’ will likely mean an increase in property taxes.”

The sales tax would fund two projects, a new combined Emergency Medical Services/Rural Fire building, and safety and security improvements to the Ellis County jail and courthouse.

It would sunset in five years, or when the project is paid off, whichever comes first.  Total costs, with interest, are estimated at $14.3 million dollars.

Presentations were made by Sheriff Ed Harbin, Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees, District Judge Glenn Braun, EMS Director Kerry McCue and Rural Fire Chief Dick Klaus. Each explained the problems the outdated and crowded facilities are causing.

The courthouse was built in 1940; the jail in 1970.  There were 11 EMS employees in 1990;  today there are 41 working in the same building.  The rural fire station is too small to house all the vehicles.

County Administrator Greg Sund reassured a skeptical audience member that all possible scenarios have been studied the past three years.  “These recommendations satisfy the county’s needs, not wants, ” he said.

“There are other benefit to this plan.  We’ll be able to sell three buildings–EMS, Rural Fire and the Tholen Building, where EMS records are kept, ” said Sund.  “There are also savings of nearly $28,000 a year that the county is currently paying to rent offices and storage buildings.”

Sheriff Harbin pointed out another savings.  The jail capacity is 30, but the average daily inmate population is about 50.  “Right now, we’re spending $185,000 a year to house prisoners out of county, ” said Harbin.  That cost, and the liability,  would end if a bigger jail is built.

Five more public meetings will be held.  The sales tax election is May 14.


  • a

    Just vote yes. They are going to get the funds no matter what.

  • Pointless meeting

    If you start the meeting by saying “It’s going to happen.” and “‘Plan B’ will likely mean an increase in property taxes.” You just said that you are going to do this regardless of what WE vote so why even bother to have these meetings? Our elected leaders are going to do whatever they want anyway. I say Vote NO to the sales tax and Vote NO to Commission chairman Dean Haselhorst. Let’s hold them financially accountable. You have had since 1940 to plan and save for a new building. If I want a new house or want to expand my house I save not ask my neighbor to give me money for it.

    • Ellis County resident

      Well in a way this is your home, it is your county, your jail, your fire dept and your emergency medical service. When your family grows and you need a larger and bettering functioning home you would seek larger and better accommodations. This is no different, all three of these entries have out grown their homes. Please vote YES, it would be better finically for everyone who buys products in our community to help finance this project instead of the increase in the mill levy that only Ellis county residents will pay.

      • Business Owner

        The problems with sales tax is that it is actually bad for business and drives business elsewhere!

      • Pointless meeting

        Yes, if it’s a choice then I guess the sales tax is the lesser of the two evils however it’s wrong for Commission chairman Dean Haselhorst to be making the threat and that’s what I am trying to say. The city is going to do what they want so why even bother to have the election. I’ll vote no just because of Commission chairman Dean Haselhorst comments.

        • Ellis County resident

          It is not a threat, it is a fact. The upgrades to the departments will be made, how you choose to pay for them is what needs to be decided.

          • Pointless meeting

            Thanks for the response! This article says Commission chairman Dean Haselhorst said “It’s going to happen.” and “‘Plan B’ will likely mean an increase in property taxes.”
            So..How is this not a threat, he basically just said if we don’t vote yes they will find another way to make us pay for it. So why even bother with the vote? How is it OUR choice when we are being told it’s going to happen no matter what we vote?

          • Ellis County resident

            We are voting on the tax, do we want to share the expense with All who shop in Hays, or do we want to keep it at home and raise our taxes. It is a simple answer vote YES

  • Pfonz

    The sales tax is not a new tax, it is ongoing from the previous 1/2 cent tax that just went off.We may as well have everyone in the area pay for this and not just the local property owners.Most property values have increased dramatically so we do not need an increase in the mill levy as well if the sales tax is voted down! VOTE YES!!

    • Expired

      The tax expired at the beginning of the month. So since it is not currently a tax and we are not currently paying it that makes it a new tax.

    • Ellis Resident

      I live in Ellis where the current sales tax is 8.3% and has been that way for a few years. If we vote in this sales tax increase the sales tax paid in Ellis will be 8.8%. That sure looks like a new tax to me!!!!

  • Chris

    The ignorance is palpable. An increase in sales tax means that a lot of the tax money will come from people living outside of Hays that shop here. That is a good thing, especially with the economic pull Hays has. No sales tax increase means that the money comes from property taxes, which will take money JUST from people with property in Hays. This is not a good thing. Seems like a no brainer.

    • Gomer

      Then why not a tax on hotels and rental cars, that would overwhelmingly be paid by out of towners. I do not appreciate threats by local officials. Disgusting.

      • Chris

        It was not a threat. It was stated that the revisions to those facilities WILL be done. He stated that the money has to come from somewhere. The BEST option is a sales tax, and the worse option(plan B), is raising property taxes.

        Increasing taxes on hotels and rental cars would not come anywhere close to raising the funds.

        • Gomer

          Maybe they shouldn’t have lumped all these projects together. it’s obviously more than most are comfortable with.

  • Ellis County resident

    Lets start with a positive, if the residents of Ellis county were told that a savings of over $200,00 could be made every year by not out-sourcing inmates and cutting out office and storage rentals there would be pats on the back all the way around. The commission is also planning on selling three properties to help offset the new buildings. Threats were not made, facts were stated, progress will be made in Ellis county. Please vote YES in May, let all who shop here help out, they might just need one of the services while they shop. We don’t have to raise the mill levy, let’s stay level headed do the right thing, vote YES.

    • Why?

      Why should we vote yes? Why should this tax not be used for other things that will benefit the community, help create jobs, and bring people to the community. Things like a bike trail, community center, new businesses, or a convention center. This is what the sports complex and pool did for us.

      Like it was stated above. This article says Commission chairman Dean Haselhorst said “It’s going to happen.” and “‘Plan B’ will likely mean an increase in property taxes.”

      How is this not a threat to us? and what’s the point of having a vote if they are going to do what they want anyway. Do the right thing and hold our leaders fiscally responsible as it was also stated about. Vote NO

      • Chris

        Is it really that hard to understand? If you vote NO, the leaders won’t be held responsible, YOU will.

      • Ellis County resident

        Ok let’s look at this way, simpler terms. Your child is given money to spend, they will want to buy video games, candy or go to a theme park, they want to have fun. It never crosses their mind to spend the money on something that keeps them safe, shoes, a warm coat or safe place to live, the staples of life. It is time we take care of our staples in Ellis county. The jail, fire dept. or EMS may not bring in an income like the sports complex, but they will keep us safe.

  • Rob

    Ellis county commissioners=crooks, going to screw us no matter what

  • Crime

    So we are not safe in Ellis County? Is this going to improve ems response times? Is it going to cut down on crime? How is this project going to help keep us safe? I was not aware we had such a big problem with crime here in Ellis County.

    • Chris

      It is through the work on the fire, police, and EMS depts that make the county safe. With the limited capacity of the jail, many offenders are let go on community corrections. So, will a larger jail make the county safer, I would assume so. If you don’t think crime(especially drugs) is a big problem in the county, I would ask you to look at the weekly police logs available on this site.

    • Ellis County resident

      Fire will still respond to fires, EMS response time will remain the same and your love ones will be well cared for. But these comes a time when upgrades need to be made so thse safety measures can continue to grow. When it comes to crime this is not Mayberry we do have crime and drugs in the county, like Chris says read the PD report on this site there is a problem. I realize that many of you will vote no, but understand what you are voting no to.

  • Taxed enough

    Depending on how much the mill levy would increase, which I don’t believe has been stated, most Ellis County residents will pay more in sales tax then the property tax increase. We shop here every day and will most likely spend more then those that occasionally come from out of town.