Home > City Council, Money, News > City seeking sales tax election for July 14; increase to benefit capital projects

City seeking sales tax election for July 14; increase to benefit capital projects

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The Guthrie city council will likely seek a proposed sales tax election to registered voters for a half-cent sales tax increase that would benefit capital projects for the City, including such items as a ladder truck for the Guthrie Fire Department, upgrade and relocation of youth baseball and softball fields and beautification. The proposal may be in the hands of voters in the July 14 special election.

James Long (head of the table) speaks with city council members on the proposed sales tax election projects.

James Long (head of the table) speaks with city council members on the proposed sales tax election projects.

Guthrie News Page has shared the video of this workshop. It can be found at the bottom of this article.

On Tuesday night’s workshop meeting with the City of Guthrie, local businessman James Long told council members with the defeat of the last one cent sales tax proposal, in August, information had been gathered from citizens as to what they want to see in future proposals.

“What we learned from the (last) failure is that people were looking for a list of what we were going to spend the money on specifically and a sunset (clause).” Long said who spoke on behalf of the Guthrie Area Projects (GAP).

The GAP group, composed of local citizens, helped prioritize quality of life projects to be funded from a dedicated sales tax.

The Rate and Fee Advisory Board approved the recommendation of a sales tax election increasing the City’s sales tax portion for five years by one-half percent for capital improvements.

If the tax were to be approved by voters (50 percent of the vote), it would increase the City’s current three percent sales tax to 3.50 percent and moving the county’s portion to 8.75 percent. The City has not seen a sales tax increase since 1979.

The City estimates the half-cent increase would generate an additional $793,374 based off of the City’s fiscal year of 2014.

“We went for a one-cent sales tax (in August). This time, we are stepping back and only giving a half cent. That other half cent that we were talking before was towards pay increases and things of that nature, and that was another negative comment that came around,” Long said.

Projects recommended by GAP committee

A list of projects that the GAP committee discussed on March 6 were shared with council members, including estimated minimums for each project.

– Ladder truck for fire department $100,000 per year
– Trolley assistance $70,000 per year
– Public safety vehicles $50,000 per year
– Public restrooms (upgrades or new construction $45,000 per year
– Initial investments for upgrade/relocation of baseball and softball fields (Owen Field) $250,000, beautification and sidewalks ($150,000), dog park at existing park ($100,000), basketball and tennis court upgrades ($50,000) and Armory upgrades for train rooms ($20,000).
– Tornado sirens ($400,000), painting of water towers ($700,000), fire engine ($525,000), swimming pool upgrades ($50,000), sidewalk repairs ($100,000), equipment storage shed ($100,000), mowing equipment ($50,000) and sand volleyball court at fire station ($20,000).

“This list is more of an accountability for the council and staff to say ‘we need to do this.’ I would like to see is the GAP committee and Rate and Fee committee be the accountability group for council,” City Manager Sereniah Breland said.

June 9 vs July 14 election dates

The timing of the tax comes at a crucial time with the upcoming $16.2 million Guthrie Public Schools bond election set for May 12. Long and City staff recommended the proposed sales tax go to voters in April, but the council agreed to separate time between the City’s and school’s ballot.

Guthrie“I sure don’t want to muddy up the water and mess up their (school) opportunity,” Mayor Mark Spradlin said.

” I don’t want people talking about two things (elections) at the same time.”

Long did not completely disagree, but strongly believes the City has to move forward.

“I don’t think there is ever a good time to bring forward a sales tax issue. I think you are always going to find a reason why you should wait. I think the school has equally seen that, but they keep pushing forward because they need the revenue. I think it’s equally important that the municipality moves forward to try and have things for our community that would create a better way of life.

Mayor Spradlin continued to show his concern of the timing.

“My concern, is as bad as we need it and as bad as they (school) need it, we sure do need the school stuff and it’s more important anything on here (list of proposed City projects). Is good as this is (projects), the school is more important than anything here. I think we have the opportunity to wait just a little bit, show some support and go from there.”

Councilman Jeff Taylor and Trey Ayers shared the same opinion of the mayor.

Council agreed for staff to continue with ballot language and will take a formal vote in the April 7 council meeting to move forward.

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Categories: City Council, Money, News
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