County conditionally approves venue tax

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

The Cameron County Commissioners Court unanimously approved several agenda items regarding the implementation of a countywide venue tax during a regular meeting on Nov. 29.

Voters approved two separate county venue tax propositions by a margin of 2-1 during the November elections. The propositions would allow the County to levy a 2 percent venue tax, part of the Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT Tax) on visitors staying at hotels and short term rental properties within the bounds of Cameron County.

At the same time, however, residents of South Padre Island approved a similar 2 percent venue tax for the City of South Padre Island in a municipal election also held last month. Venue taxes are capped by the state at 17 percent. With voters in both Cameron County at large and South Padre Island approving similar tax increases, concern arose that one could perhaps nullify the other, since the venue tax on the Island stood at 14.5 percent prior to the election.

Speaking to members of the Port Isabel and South Padre Island Chambers of Commerce during a Chamber breakfast just before Election Day, Cameron County Chief Financial Officer Mark Yates suggested the County would collect a 2 percent venue tax from everywhere in the county except the Island should both taxes be approved by voters. With the City’s own venue tax increase putting the overall tax at 16.5 percent, the County would only collect the remaining 0.5 percent left before hitting the state-mandated cap, he said.

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