By Wyatt Goolsby
BIG SPRING - Some Big Spring citizens are fighting back against how the city plans to spend millions of taxpayer dollars. In the last few months, they've rallied hundreds to their side. However, city officials might be a little confused when they look at the petition against raising property taxes. That's because it only has one signature.
"We decided that we would submit a token petition with a single signature basically to voice our protest to the tax increase, but understanding that we did not get the required number of signatures," Shannon Thomason, with the Concerned Citizens Council of Big Spring, explained.
At first glance at the petition, at first you might think this is just a mistake. After months of work to rally hundreds of Big Spring residents against a property tax increase, one signature is all the Concerned Citizens Council has to show for it. However, Thomason said it's not a mistake.
"Given the fact that we don't have enough to get verified and get the tax rate on the ballot, then at that point it really doesn't matter if we turn in 800 or one," Thomason said.
Thomason said the petition itself is focused around the city pool. In September, the city council voted to increase the tax rate, so that over time, they could upgrade or rebuild an up to code pool. A proposed water park could cost millions of dollars, which is why it's an issue Thomason said should be left to the voters.
"They haven't made a decision on it yet. They don't know what it's going to cost yet. That being the case, why increase the taxes now when you don't even have a plan?" Thomason asked.
City officials told NewsWest 9 renovating the pool is a priority for the city, and are taking the time to figure out how best to spend money for an upgrade. Thomason said there are hundreds who agree this decision should be left to the voters. However, he's not revealing any of their names for their protection. While he fell short, Thomason said he's still very worried about the situation.
"The city council raising taxes to pay for this kind of a project without going to the voters sets a real dangerous precedent here," Thomason explained. "It's not a precedent that we want to see repeated in the future. If it does happen again, we'll probably pursue another petition drive at that time."
City officials told NewsWest 9 whatever the final decision on the city pool, they said they want to make sure it's something Big Spring can be proud of. The tax increase could be used over time to pay for a new water park. As city officials reveal more concrete plans, NewsWest 9 will continue to bring you the updates.