Voters have already had their say in helping to shape what a Garvin County sales tax measure will look like when it goes before voters for renewal next spring.
A handful of recent meetings produced some strong opinions from the public on the county’s seven-year half-cent tax set to expire next summer.
All three county commissioners said Monday those opinions and that input played a big part in their decision to be more specific with the uses for the tax revenue and to put a set time limit on the measure if voters choose to keep this tax going for another seven years.
The county trio also voted to set March 4, 2014 as the election day with voters again getting the final say.
“I think it helped us make up our mind,” District 3 Commissioner Johnny Mann said about the opinions coming from those speaking up at the open meetings.
“I think it was valuable,” said Shon Richardson of District 2, referring to the public input.
“I’ve been staying quiet up to now because I wasn’t a part of this tax at the beginning,” said the newest of the commissioners, Stan Spivey of District 1.
“I have found it very interesting when we had these meetings,” Spivey said about the opinions offered by a few residents.
Most of those public comments centered on the desire to have commissioners earmark more of the tax funding, or at the very least provide a list of specific areas to be addressed by the general tax funds.
What commissioners approved for the half-cent tax measure was this:
• 25 percent earmarked for the maintenance and operation of the Garvin County Sheriff’s Department and jail, which is the same as the current tax set to expire on June 30, 2014.
• 25 percent divided equally among the three commissioners for maintenance of county roads and bridges, also the same as the current tax.
• 12.5 percent earmarked for the maintenance and operation of the Garvin County 911 service.
• 37.5 percent goes to the county’s general fund, which is budgeted annually by the county Excise Board and the commissioners.
It’s this fund that commissioners have said will be used to address the highest priority county projects, which can change over time.
Some of those areas could include maintaining county buildings, continued upgrades to the county jail, additional upgrades to the county courthouse building such as fourth floor renovations and a new annex roof and providing county employees with more competitive salaries.
Additional tax funds could even go toward the 4-H programs in the county or to the county fair barn.
“I hope people will get behind this because it’s vital,” Richardson said. “This tax will keep essential services coming.”
The current half-cent was passed in 2007 for a seven-year period. If voters renew this tax for another seven years it would stretch from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2021.