Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

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January 6, 2014

Gearing up for county tax push

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — Even with a few changes here and there a group of Garvin County officials will soon be gearing up to get out there and better inform voters on a sales tax they hope will be renewed in a few weeks.

The election date will actually come on March 4 as voters will decide the fate of a half-cent county sales tax in place since 2007 but set to end this coming summer.

Much debate and input from some county residents in recent weeks did result in a few changes to where the revenue will go if the tax is renewed.

It also changed the minds of all three county commissioners who decided to place another seven-year term on the tax rather than push for it on a more permanent basis.

Still, the specifics of the new tax proposal and the time limit on the tax itself have been decided as commissioners and members of a sales tax committee are planning to soon make a whirlwind tour of the county to better inform voters on what it’s all about.

“After the first of the year we’re meeting with the committee to come up with spokesmen,” said District 3 Commissioner Johnny Mann.

“They’ll go out and talk to the fire departments, Farm Bureau, everybody. We’ll come up with a list of priorities and what we want to do with the money,” Mann said about the tax revenue not earmarked but instead going into the county’s general fund.

District 2 Commissioner Shon Richardson believes it’s good the specifics of the tax proposal are now set.

This, he said, allows county officials to make their plans to get out there and talk to as many people about this sales tax and what the money will do if voters say yes in March.

“Now we can set our plans to campaign on this,” Richardson said.

“We will want to explain to the public what we’re doing, what we’ve done in the past with this tax and what we intend to do in the future,” he said.

“People need to remember they would be renewing a tax that’s already in place. This is not a new tax.”

The tax Richardson is referring to is the half-cent sales tax here in Garvin County approved by voters back in 2007.

Half of the tax revenues were earmarked by commissioners to address a long list of needed improvements and renovations to the county courthouse building in Pauls Valley with many already completed and others still on the way.

A quarter of the tax has gone toward the operation of the county sheriff’s office and upgrades to the county jail.

The remaining quarter of the revenues has been split equally among the three commissioners for county roads.

Officials have said the tax has generated nearly $10 million for the county since it began.

With this new tax proposal a quarter would still go to the sheriff’s office, which is the same as the current tax set to expire June 30, 2014.

Another quarter would again be equally divided among the three commissioners’ districts for the maintenance of county roads and bridges.

A total of 12.5 percent of the tax revenues would be earmarked for the maintenance and operation of the Garvin County 911 service.

The remaining 37.5 percent would go to the county’s general fund to be used for a variety of county projects depending on the greatest needs.

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