Big Lake Mayor Lobbies for Sales Tax Increase to Improve Traffic

Big Lake Mayor Lobbies for Sales Tax Increase to Improve Traffic

Anum Valliani
NewsWest 9

BIG LAKE -   All of West Texas has been seeing growth from the boom. But small towns might be witnessing the biggest growing pains. At least that's what's going on in Big Lake with their struggle with traffic.

Big Lake has had a pretty stable population of about 2,500, but now officials say it's closer to 10,000 people when you factor in those that drive thru the city daily. According to the mayor, all that traffic has got the city hollering about how to fix it.

"All those two lane roads coming in and two lane roads going out can't handle all the traffic that we have," Big Lake Mayor, Terry Jones, said.

According to Reagan County Judge, Larry Isom, it's a feat to drive without getting caught in a pothole. "All the pavement in town is tearing up bad because the trucks and equipment go down and use it."

Other agencies also have witnessed negatives .

"It's affecting all of our response. Anytime you have an emergency vehicle responding out in the county, in particular, it's creating an issue. It's slowing them down in responding to get there," Reagan County Sheriff, Jeff Garner, said.

But although there are delays, they haven't directly altered life or death situations.

The mayor is working with other officials to improve situations in traffic by analyzing where to put additional stop lights, crossing lights, turn signals, etc., to help better control traffic.

He says they're doing the best they can to get the situation fixed but with other hefty problems related to infrastructure and an increase in crime, the city is finding that they're spread thin and "runs short of money real quick."

"In a smaller town, you can't divide it up into what part needs the most help," Jones said.

But he has a solution in mind: "I'm writing all the smaller cities around and seeing if they might be interested in going to the state to lobby for a higher sales tax," he said.

That tax would be used for street improvements only. He said that's much-needed considering the streets don't generate any income.

"We have to rob from the other entities to pay for the streets," Jones said.

But Big Lake resident, Kim Hutchinson, said the city needs to prioritize what's important.

"Sometimes you have to spend money to have nicer things," she said.

According to the mayor, if they raise the sales tax, even by a cent, the city would have another half a million dollars to work with, but he also projected it'll take a couple of years before they can really get something done.

In the meantime, the city plans to go patching up the streets one pothole at a time.