Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

February 13, 2014

Group backs county tax

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — A group of Garvin County Republicans has agreed the time is right to announce their support of a county sales tax measure up for renewal early next month.

More than a dozen members of the Garvin County Republican Committee announced they are unanimous in their endorsement of the county’s half cent tax going before voters during a March 4 election.

The tax has been in place since 2007 as voters will decide whether or not to keep the measure going for another seven-year period.

Allie Burgin, who serves as the Republican committee chairman, said this week the group decided the tax was such an important issue their endorsement needed to be made public as a way of encouraging voters to support the county proposal.

“We’re a committee that represents the party in this county,” Burgin said.

“We chose to adopt it unanimously,” he said. “We felt we should come out and make a statement about this tax.

“We’re typically resistant to a new tax, but this is an existing tax. It’s funded some good stuff in the past, and we feel they need this tax pretty badly.”

Since the tax has been in place it’s generated nearly $10 million for three earmarked areas — renovations to the county courthouse, a supplement to the sheriff’s office budget and improvements to the county jail and county roads.

The county’s new plan for the tax again earmarks one quarter of the revenue for the sheriff’s office.

Another quarter would again go for county roads, which officials have said is split among the three commissioners and mostly pays for fuel.

New to the tax is 12.5 percent would be earmarked for the county’s 911 emergency dispatch center with a focus on creating a funding source to keep salaries and benefits competitive for dispatchers working at the center.

Burgin said there was a trio of points at the center of the Republican committee’s vote to endorse the tax measure.

For one, this is not a new tax but a continuation of what he says is “a much needed tax to help county government support continued work that is clearly targeted toward certain projects and departments.”

A second point is the tax has a seven-year term placed on it, meaning voters can later decide whether or not the tax money was spent wisely.

“Our county government is the government most transparent and answerable to the grassroots voters,” Burgin said.

“County government is closest to the people it serves, and we have access to our county commissioners directly on the street, by phone or by attending county commissioner meetings which are open to the public,” he said.

“We believe this is a tax we can live with and should approve through our ballots in the March 4 election, because this is the proper way for good citizens to work with government to address and solve our local problems.”

Burgin added the recent winter weather making roads slick has so far kept the committee from coming together to discuss its potential stance on the Pauls Valley city sales tax measure going before voters on the same March 4 election day.