MDD is ‘ok’ with voters
Voters approved, with landslide majorities, a complex set of proposals which completed the transfer of a one-half cent sales tax from the Rockdale Hospital District to the city Municipal Development District (MDD).
City officials had sought the sales tax as a key to attracting jobs to Rockdale in the wake of the 2008 Alcoa smelter shutdown that cost approximately 1,100 jobs.
Voters also put three new faces on the city council. Dr. Larry Jones was elected mayor, Joyce Dalley easily won an eastward council seat and Toby Johnson claimed a west ward seat by 10 votes.
‘Yes’ votes prevail
It was a “mix and match” election in which voters in different parts of the city and its extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) faced different ballot proposals, depending upon their place of residence.
The key vote was for Proposition 1, creation of a new MDD with its boundaries as the current city limits.
It passed with 420 in favor and 130 opposed, a spread of 76 to 24 percent.
At the same time, residents inside the 1994 Rockdale city limits okayed a proposal to abolish the Rockdale Hospital District’s sales tax.
That vote was 467 in favor and 40 against, a spread of 92 to 8 percent.
Also, voters in the sparsely inhabited portion of the city, plus its ETJ, outside the 1994 city limits okayed Proposition 2, to dissolve the existing MDD which only covers that area.
Vote was 28 in favor and 3 opposed, a spread of 90 to 10 percent.
That MDD had been collecting a half-cent sales tax, formerly collected by the hospital district, in that area since April.
Bottom line after votes from all the confusing pieces of the puzzle were settled.
All the sales tax formerly collected by the hospital district will now be collected by a new MDD and used for economic development.
It’s estimated that total could be in the neighborhood of $260,000 annually.
Dr. Jones polled 314 votes (56.7 percent) to 209 for Collier Perry (37.7 percent), while Rev. Darrell Grear drew 31 (5.6 percent).
Jones carried both of Rockdale’s big boxes, winning in Precinct 318 by 217-146-16 and in Precinct 419 by 87-50-13.
Perry polled 13 votes in Precinct 207, to 10 for Jones and 2 for Grear.
Jones said he was looking forward to the challenge of leading the city.
“The first thing I’ll do is educate myself on how the city operates and what it needs,” Jones said.
“It’s just like diagnosing a patient,” the dentist said. “You find a problem, you formulate a plan and carry it out.”
Jones planned to attend his third Texas Municipal League conference on Friday.
Johnson unseated west ward councilman Tom Fisher by 10 votes, winning 230-220.
That’s a spread of 51 to 49 percent.
Johnson won by 5 votes in each precinct, taking Precinct 318 by 170-165 and winning Precinct 419 by 60-55.
Dalley defeated Roger Whitmore 76-24 (percentages same as the vote) in a light turnout in Rockdale’s east ward.
Both were first-time candidates.
Incumbent J. T. Talley did not seek re-election.
The 2010 turnout was 554, a moderate total for a city election with a contested mayoral race.
In 2004, the prev ious city election with a contested mayor’s race, there were 927 votes recorded.
Record for a city election was in 1978 when 1,454 votes were recorded.