A majority of voters in west Galveston County on Saturday rejected a bid to impose a new 2 percent sales tax in parts of the area covered by Galveston County Emergency Services District No. 1.
Voters rejected the proposed sales tax in a 498-to-437 vote, according to complete but unofficial results.
The emergency services district funds fire and EMS services in Santa Fe and surrounding unincorporated areas. The district's board proposed a new sales tax to voters, pitching it as a way to pay for equipment upgrades and other costs that will come from expanding.
The sales tax increase would only have applied in areas that weren't already covered by the city of Santa Fe's sales tax, meaning it would have only added to costs in unincorporated areas.
The election caught some residents and leaders in the area off guard, including Santa Fe city officials and county commissioners.
If the tax was applied in the unincorporated areas, it wouldn't be possible for the city of Santa Fe to collect a similar tax in the future, if the city begins to annex those areas. Some elected officials said the district acted too hastily in calling the election and began to explore ways to stop it.
After the vote was scheduled, commissioners removed two of the district's board members who were serving after their terms had expired.