Like all birthday parties, the gathering in Tyler's Gallery Main Street on Thursday evening had cake, old friends, warm conversations and bouts of laughter.

Instead of singing "Happy Birthday," the participants spoke of the projects, large and small, that wouldn't have been possible without the adoption of the city's Half-Cent Sales tax.

November 2015 marks the 20th anniversary of voters approving a provision to allow half of a cent of its sales tax monies to fund infrastructure and quality of life projects.

Over the years, the city has completed 106 projects with a total price tag of $188 million - all without issuing any bonded indebtedness to its residents.

Projects include the Glass Recreation Center, Faulkner Park, new fire stations, the new police substation as well as the completion of new roads, including Earl Campbell Parkway, the Grande Boulevard extension and the Cumberland Road Extension.

The tax has allowed the city to drop its property tax rate more than 60 percent from 53.36 cents per $100 property valuation in 1995 to the current rate of 22 cents.

It also allowed the city to pay off all of its general obligation debt within 13 years. The last payment was made in 2008, and the city has not taken on any more since.

Former mayor and City Council member Joey Seeber said the election was not a slam dunk. The tax was approved by a margin of 438 votes, with 4,466 voters in favor of the measure and 4,028 against it.

"There were those who were opposed," he said at the celebration. "They did not believe elected officials would do what they were saying they were going to do. We were able to prove them wrong."

When the half-cent sales tax was proposed, the city promised its residents three things: It would reduce the tax rate, eliminate general obligation debt and pay cash for future projects.

Those promise were met, city leaders said.

"It's a testament to the city of Tyler and the leadership in Tyler that we have stayed the course…" Seeber said. "All over the city we see the vision of the people who came before us."



Digital Content Manager

Faith Harper is an East Texas native working for her hometown newspaper. She specializes in digital content for the Tyler Morning Telegraph. In her spare time, she loves tacos, road trips and is currently learning to sail.

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