Proposed tax increase could fund new road from Pine Forest to Vidor

Orange County Commissioners are considering if a proposed road would require tax funds.

ORANGE COUNTY - Renee Leasure attended today’s Orange County Commissioner’s meeting to hear another proposal for Loop 299. With ongoing talks of an 11% tax increase in Orange County, Loop 299 is a project that could see funds funnel in from that increase.

But Leasure says residents are not driven to support the project. She says it’s not needed.

“Before it’s all over with, I just don’t think that this is going to be a good thing for citizens of Orange County. It might for a few, but not for all of us,” Leasure said.

The proposed Loop 299 would skirt around Vidor’s west end and run through wetlands that Leasure says residents want to preserve.

County Judge, Stephen Brint Carlton says a tax increase or cutbacks in the county budget could be necessary if the project is approved.

“Overall, the growth that’s generated from the project will pay for itself, which is the idea. Or you would have to go through the route of saying, ‘Hey we want economic development, we don’t want a tax increase.’ So we’re going to have to cut back on our regular expenditures as well.”

Leasure says she hopes the county puts the brakes on the project.

"It's real strange, less than two weeks ago we were hit with a proposed tax increase and then to turn around and ask the citizens to fund 23 million dollars for a loop, that really only stands to help certain people,” Leasure believes.

She estimated the cost would be $11 to $23 million, but County Judge Carlton says the costs could vary.

Orange County commissioners will continue the Loop 299 talks next week. It’s not clear when a vote could be taken.

UPDATE: The presentation yesterday only stated a 1-2 cent tax increase. 11% would be considered as a “revenue increase,” which may or may not be the case. Jessica Hill, Orange County EDC, said the only effects on business she has seen from loops are gas stations. 

(© 2016 KBMT)


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