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County sales tax effective Tuesday

9/29/2013

By RANDY GONZALES

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

The county's 0.5-percent sales tax, approved by voters in May, goes into effect Tuesday.

The income from the sales tax will go toward construction of an EMS/rural fire building, as well as expansion and renovation to the county jail, Law Enforcement Center and courthouse.

The cost of the project is $12.3 million, with a total cost of approximately $14.3 million, including interest. The sales tax will sunset after five years, or when the project is paid off, whichever comes sooner.

Ellis businesses will charge 8.65 percent as a result of the 0.5-percent county sales tax increase. Additionally, city of Hays businesses in the Transportation Development District located generally north of Interstate 70 will charge 9.15 percent, while the Community Improvement District near 48th and Roth will charge 10.4 percent.

The city of Hays will give the county its share of the sales tax. Ellis, Victoria and Schoenchen each will keep their share of the county's tax.

Ellis County Administrator Greg Sund was unsure when the county would start receiving income from the tax.

"It's really hard to say," he said. "My guess would be like three months, but I don't know."

The state notifies online retailers of any changes in tax rates.

"The state, in my opinion, doesn't do a great job at notification on that," said Kim Rupp, Director of Finance for the city of Hays. "Most retailers are having to file their sales tax before it's online, and there's just a little blurb on there, and it's easily missed."

That's why the city, when it had a sales tax for Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex, had an advertising blitz when the tax went on and when it came off, to alert retailers of the change.

"When it was our very own city sales tax, we kind of wanted to make sure we got the word out," Rupp said.

Rupp said it's not uncommon for a bump in the road for retailers when a tax rate changes.

"Generally, it's very normal," he said. "That's tough to catch there, right on the date. They've got to adjust their own accounting systems, their point-of-sale cash registers, things like that."