Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

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December 10, 2013

Sales tax plan gets whole new slant

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — The direction appears to have changed just a bit for a Garvin County sales tax likely going before voters for renewal next year.

A half-cent tax passed by voters back in 2007 and set to expire next summer is beginning to draw some strong opinions on how that revenue should be spent if voters again choose to give it their approval in 2014.

The focus of many is a desire to have more of the tax revenue earmarked for specific purposes.

At the same time members of a sales tax committee, stressing the need for some flexibility by only earmarking half the funds, appeared to get a better idea of what the tax proposal might look like in the end when they gathered for a public meeting Monday.

“I’ll support this sales tax,” said Curtis Stubblefield, who supported more of the revenue being earmarked.

“If you tell the people what you’re going to spend it on they’ll support it,” he said. “I think it’s been great, but it needs a full accounting.

“You tell us what we need and I promise you we’ll vote for it. I’m for the tax as long as I know where the money is going.

“There needs to be an openness about it.”

After these and a number of other comments, members of sales tax committee look to be learning toward a recommendation that puts more limits on the measure.

For the second time the tax could call for a seven-year time period rather than on a permanent basis considered so far by all three county commissioners.

Also emergency communications could be added as another area to receive earmarked funding if the tax measure if renewed, possibly during an election on April 1, 2014.

Put more simply, the focus here is dispatchers working at the county-wide 911 emergency dispatch center and getting their salaries up to a higher and more stable level.

A look back shows the county’s half-cent tax has generated nearly $10 million for the county since it started seven years ago.

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

A quarter of the tax has been split between the operation of the sheriff’s department and upgrades to the county jail.

The remaining quarter has been split equally among the three commissioners to go toward county roads.

Up to now commissioners have indicated they were looking at continuing a quarter of the tax for both the sheriff’s office and the county highway system with the remaining half placed in the county’s general budget rather being be earmarked.

That way, they said, different areas can be addressed as they change over time.

During a public meeting Monday stretching over 90 minutes the sales tax committee members’ indicated they are leaning toward advising county commissioners on a couple of things.

They include setting the time limit on the tax measure and the possibility of earmarking 12.5 percent of the tax revenue for 911 dispatcher salaries.

Editor’s Note: More on the county sales tax issue will be featured in Thursday’s edition of the PV Democrat .

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