The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

June 15, 2012

Fairview voters to determine city sales tax extension

FAIRVIEW — Voters in the city of Fairview will determine June 26 whether or not the city will continue to collect a one percent sales tax earmarked for capital improvement projects.

According to the ballot proposition filed with the Major County Election Board, the proposed one percent sales tax is a 15-year extension of an already existing tax approved by voters in 1997.

The current tax is scheduled to expire Oct. 1. If voters pass the proposition, the city will continue to collect one cent for capital improvements on every taxable dollar spent in the city through Sept. 20, 2027.

Fairview City Manager Dale Sides said the capital improvement sales tax has helped fund “a variety of projects” during the past 15 years, including: matching money for grant applications, city equipment purchases, police vehicles, fire department equipment, city sanitation trucks and drainage and flood mitigation projects.

“Any time we have to buy police cars, fire equipment or anything like that, we just wouldn’t have the funds without the capital improvement money,” Sides said.

The sales tax also has helped cover “shortfall payments” for projects such as the city’s new aquatic center and renovations to the city conference center.

Sides said larger projects, such as the new pool and ongoing drainageway improvements, are independently funded, but the capital improvement sales tax provides a “safety net” to cover unexpected expenses and cost overruns.

“It gives us the extra funding to do some of the things we need that would not ever happen if it were not in place,” Sides said of the tax. “It provides us a safety net.”

Fairview currently collects four cents of city sales tax for every taxable dollar spent in the city, including: one cent for the city’s general operating fund; one cent to pay debts incurred by construction of the city aquatic center and renovation of the city conference center; one cent to make payments on a construction bond for Fairview Regional Medical Center; and one cent for capital improvements, the tax to be decided upon by voters later this month.

If passed under the June 26 proposition, the 15-year extension of the sales tax will allow the city to either make purchases directly from sales tax revenue or to make loan payments from the tax revenue, “including costs and debt service in connection with obligations issued to finance said capital improvements.”

Sides said if the capital improvement sales tax extension is not passed by voters, there could be budget shortfalls in essential city services.

“It would create problems,” Sides said. “We wouldn’t have that safety net we need, and we wouldn’t have access to some of the projects and equipment in the city without this money. Service like the police, the library and even the city general fund ... the city just doesn’t generate enough revenue to take care of itself without this. The only alternative we would have is to raise utility rates, and that’s not a viable solution as far as I’m concerned. Or, we could discontinue some city services, but that’s not really a solution either.

“I think we really just need to keep going the way we’ve been going,” Sides said of the capital improvement sales tax. “It gives us the opportunity to provide some things that the community would not otherwise have.”

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