By Kelsi Peace, Features Editor
The City of Abilene Special Election section will ask voters to vote on two issues Tuesday: the smoking ban and the disabled or senior tax freeze.
If implemented, the tax freeze will limit taxes imposed on disabled people and people older than 65, “even if the tax freeze raises the tax rate for other tax payers or reduces services in the City of Abilene,” according to official ballot wording at www.abilenetx.com.
The Web site also projected the impact the tax freeze would have, estimating an increase of half of one cent per $100 in property value for those who are not affected by the tax freeze.
Dr. Neal Coates, professor of political science, said the impact of the tax freeze “is negligible” for those younger than 65.
Coates said most students probably aren’t considering the issue because “most college students don’t think forward 50 years.”
In his Oct. 1 column in the Abilene Reporter-News, Ken Ellsworth argued the freeze “would cap the taxes based on property values of the elderly and disabled who are upper middle class or wealthy—those who can well afford to pay additional taxes as their property values increase.” Ellsworth also said city services may be reduced, and young families who may also need a tax break might have heavier tax burdens.
Voters will also vote on smoking ban, which is a non-binding vote intended to give the City Council an accurate idea of whether citizens support or oppose the ban.
The ballot, according to www.abilentx.com, will ask voters if they “support the City Council adopting an ordinance prohibiting smoking in all public places and places of employment?”
Coates said the smoking ban is a clear issue.
“If enacted, it will affect the people who smoke,” Coates said. “And more importantly, it will affect all of us because the air will be cleaner.”
Five propositions to amend the City Charter of the City of Abilene will also appear on the ballot.
If passed, the amendments will require vacant seats on City Council to be filled; election dates to comply with state laws; election returns to be canvassed, or examined, on the date required by state election law; run-off elections to be held on the date required by state law and Council, board and commission meeting comply with the Texas Open Meetings Act.