Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

October 30, 2013

County tax to get a close look

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — A committee will soon be formed to look closer at what needs to happen with a Garvin County sales tax scheduled to expire next summer.

All three county commissioners agreed Monday a committee would be a good way to determine how to approach an election likely to come next year to renew the half-cent county tax.

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

Commissioners also know all too well the tax was given the thumbs up for a seven-year period. That means the tax is set to retire June 30, 2014 if voters don’t keep it going beyond that date.

“My recommendation is let’s get a committee; set up a sales tax committee,” said District 3 Commissioner Johnny Mann.

“We need to decide how we’re going to divide it up to get it passed again,” he said about the tax revenue.

“We need to decide how to disburse the tax.”

Since revenue first started coming in for the half-cent tax back in the summer of 2007 it has generated nearly $2 million on average each year.

Half of that money has been used for the maintenance and operation of the county courthouse in Pauls Valley.

Improvements paid for by tax revenue went toward a bunch of areas in the courthouse, including a new roof, the construction of an exterior elevator, remodeling parts of the ground floor, windows and a variety of upgrades to the building’s disability access.

These are only a few of the areas addressed as more are to come later, like a good “facelift” to the exterior of the courthouse building, some work to sidewalks and possibly the roof situation for the annex portion of the facility.

The remainder of the tax revenue has gone to supplement funding for the county jail and county roads.

“We’ll probably go for a permanent sales tax,” Mann said during Monday’s weekly meeting.

“I would like to see where we can use the money — for the roads or the sheriff’s office or the fair barn or whatever.”

That’s where the committee comes in as Mann and his fellow commissioners Shon Richardson and Stan Spivey agreed the goal is to take this tax measure to voters during an election on Feb. 11, 2014.

The deadline for a resolution to be delivered to the county Election Board is Dec. 12.

The committee will likely consist of at least five members.

Their main priority will be to look closely at which specific areas will benefit from the half-cent tax measure’s revenue if approved by voters.

Part of their duties will also include giving presentations on the tax proposal to various groups throughout the county.

They indicated the idea here is to better inform residents in the county on what the tax would pay for if it’s renewed.

Committee members are expected to include one commissioner, possibly the county clerk, undersheriff and a representative from the OSU Extension office.

Plans are to finalize the sales tax committee at next week’s regular commissioners’ meeting.