Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

March 6, 2014

County tax renewed

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — It was thumbs up all the way for a Garvin County wide sales tax renewed by voters in a big way this week.

Voters turned out in decent numbers for Tuesday’s election to renew a half cent county tax with portions earmarked for the sheriff’s office, county roads and the county’s 911 dispatch center.

Support from voters came in at 71.7 percent as 1,105 of the 1,541 ballots cast were in favor of the measure. The remaining votes, 436, opposed the tax at a 28.3 percent level.

The county tax, first passed by voters in 2007, is now renewed for another seven-year period.

Among those pleased with the voting results is Garvin County Sheriff Larry Rhodes.

“Funding is always a concern for sheriffs, here or any other county,” Rhodes said. “I’m extremely pleased how voters responded by renewing this tax for another seven years.

“It’s huge to the future of public safety in this county. Really both of these measures were huge for public safety with the 911 center and the hospital in Pauls Valley,” he said, also referring to a tax proposal passed in PV.

“As for emergency communications and the portion for the sheriff’s office, voters met our needs.

“I want to thank voters for supporting us for another seven years.”

With the tax measure’s passage the sheriff says he will soon implement a plan to use the money to address some specific needs in the jail and the sheriff’s office.

Both the sheriff’s department and county commissioners have one quarter of the tax earmarked, while 12 1/2 percent is going to help the county 911 center, namely with increases in pay and benefits for dispatchers.

The remainder of the tax revenues, 37 1/2 percent, will go into the county’s general fund to address various other county projects, including the possibility of additional upgrades to the county courthouse building.

During the life of the tax it’s generated nearly $10 million over the past seven years.

“I’m completely pleased with the support,” District 2 Commissioner Shon Richardson said about the election results. “It was not a big turnout but the support was.

“I’m thankful to the people for the way they supported this. They put their trust in us with this tax,” he said.

“Now we’ve got seven more years to prove we can do a good job with this and help the county move forward.”

Richardson said the quarter cent portions will help each of the three commissioners and the sheriff’s office to “keep carrying on” like normal, while the portions earmarked for 911 should provide a big boost to the countywide dispatch center.

He believes the tax revenues going into the county’s general fund should go toward the highest priority projects.

“I think we need to sit down and weigh out the county projects that are most needed,” Richardson said.

For District 1 Commissioner Stan Spivey his first reaction was a simple thank you.

“I think the first thing we need to do is thank the people of Garvin County,” said Spivey, who claims to have expressed relief when the final election numbers were announced.

“Had it not passed it would have been like taking a pay cut and trying to come up with the money somewhere else.

“It’s still going to be tough but it sure is going to make things better now that it has passed.

“It was a relief to me to see both taxes pass with so much support,” he said.