Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

November 5, 2013

Committee formed to look at tax

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — Many of the same players have been named to a committee formed to start looking much closer at the possible future of a Garvin County sales tax.

A total of five members were named Monday to serve on a committee that basically has the task of looking at what the county’s half-cent tax has done over the past seven years and where that funding could go in the future.

The process should prove to be big for all three county commissioners since the seven-year tax is set to expire next summer.

Commissioners say they intend to come up with a plan for the renewal of the tax on a permanent basis before taking it to voters sometime in 2014.

“This committee needs to come up with a proposal for the sales tax that they can present to us,” District 3 Commissioner Johnny Mann said during the group’s weekly meeting.

“They need to see how the sales tax has worked and come back to us with possible options for it,” he said.

“We need to see what everyone thinks and then bring it back to us. This is so we can come up with a plan before we put it on the ballot.”

The tax was approved by voters back in 2007 for improvements to the county courthouse building in Pauls Valley, along with upgrades to the county jail and rural roads.

Voters passed the measure for a seven-year period, which means it’s set to expire on June 30, 2014 if voters don’t keep it going beyond that date.

What Mann and fellow commissioners Shon Richardson and Stan Spivey are considering is their specific plan for the tax revenue, estimated to have generated nearly $2 million on average each year, if voters renew it on a permanent basis next year.

Although more could come later, committee members named Monday included one commissioner, county Clerk Lori Fulks, Undersheriff Jim Mullett, OSU Extension director Bob Leadford and Joe Elam of the county’s Excise Board.

Commissioners indicated each of the members named so far were highly involved in the planning for the county’s sales tax vote seven years ago.

The most likely election dates being considered for the tax renewal vote next year are Feb. 11, March 4 or April 1.

“You don’t want it to lapse,” said Assistant District Attorney Carol Dillingham about the tax.

“It probably needs to be on the ballot by March or April to keep it from lapsing.”

The tax as it stands now is very specific with funding going toward three main areas — the courthouse, county jail and county roads.

All three commissioners believe they will likely build some flexibility into the tax measure before it goes to voters next year.

The reason, they stressed, is the county’s overall needs have changed since the last election and will likely to continue changing in the future.

“We’ll probably have to earmark some of it and try to put some of it in the general budget,” Mann said about tax revenue in the future if voters OK a renewal.

Although not yet finalized, commissioners agreed the tax funds could go toward areas like the operation of the sheriff’s office and jail, fair barn improvements, the county 911 center and county roads.