Potter County voters will decide on raising sales tax to fund fire dept.

Potter County voters will decide on raising sales tax to fund fire dept. (Photo from Lelan Callaway).

Voters in Rural Potter County will get to decide if they want to raise their sales tax to provide funding for fire protections. This was on the ballot in 2014, but voters turned it down.

It is Proposition A and only residents in Potter County who live outside Amarillo City Limits will get to vote on it.

Right now, the sales tax in Amarillo is 8.25% and 6.25% in rural areas of the county. If this prop passes, the rural county's new rate will also be at 8.25%.

"I'm counting on it. If not, we're in deep trouble," said Lelan Callaway, rural Potter County resident. "Deep, deep trouble. The fight is on to get people to get people to recognize if they live in the county and own property, they really need to support this."

Callaway wants this prop to pass to keep him and others in the area safe. Out of Potter County Fire's 23 vehicles, eight of them are more than 20 years old and six of them are 10 to 19 years old. If this prop passes, they will be able to get better equipment.

"They don't have that immediate response as they do inside the City of Amarillo," said Sheriff Brian Thomas with the Potter County Sheriff's office. "We've gotta page those guys out and we hope that their truck starts."

Sheriff Thomas is in support of the prop. The two percent that the proposed sales tax raise would provide would be for law enforcement, fire and road/bridge.

"We want to use it for our fire department and this is coming from the Sheriff who could benefit from that, but I am pushing really hard for that because of our fire department," said Thomas. "Those guys are all volunteers except for four of them, but they're driving vehicles that are 20 years or older so they're falling apart."

He says the raised sales tax is a way to pay for the equipment without raising property tax and most of the people who pay for the sales tax are travelers passing through Amarillo.

"It's only raising it two cents on the dollar and if you go on into Amarillo to do shopping, you have the two percent anyway and it's just outside the county and the good percentage is going to be people coming through and paying it," said Callaway.

This should generate about $500,000 per year. Eventually once the fire department is set, there might be something that the Sheriff's office needs or a bridge or road and this money will help that.

"It's for your fire department, your law enforcement, your road and bridge and that may be what is coming to save your life and your house if it's on fire," said Thomas.

Again, people can only vote on the prop if they live in rural Potter County.

Early voting started Monday and election day is November 7.

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