The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

October 10, 2013

County special election votes Tuesday were positive for progress

Enid News and Eagle

— Garfield County voters made a couple of wise decisions Tuesday night in approving the sale of alcohol at restaurants and clubs on Sundays and extending the sales tax benefiting rural volunteer fire departments.

Both measures passed overwhelmingly.

The Sunday alcohol proposition really was more of an economic development issue than a drinking issue.

The city has been passed over by several restaurants due to the ban on Sunday liquor sales. Restaurants and clubs that sell alcohol make a substantial amount of their revenue from such sales. Cutting out one day a week was a financial hardship some were not willing to take when they considered coming to Enid.

The results of Tuesday’s election will change that. It won’t guarantee these restaurants will reconsider Enid as a location, but it will eliminate one more roadblock.

The vote was a positive sign for Enid’s growth.

The vote to extended the one-tenth cent sales tax to help rural fire departments was a continued sign that county residents understand the importance of those departments.

The extension, which will last 10 years, was the latest in a string of extensions of a tax that has made a world of difference to these departments.

The first tax, one-quarter of a cent, was approved in 1996, and there were one-tenth cent extensions in 2000 and 2005. The money generated by the sales tax has allowed rural departments to buy much-needed vehicles and equipment.

About the only negatives we saw at the polling places Tuesday were the failure of the Pond Creek-Hunter school bond issue and the turnout.

Pond Creek-Hunter patrons defeated an $11.5 million bond issue that would have funded a multi-purpose safe room, a new HVAC unit at the high school, new windows and restroom improvements and a track at the football field.

It was disappointing to see the bond issue fail.

Turnout was a big disappointment as well. Only about 20 percent of registered voters cast ballots, even with two important countywide issues to decide.

With early voting and absentee voting also allowed, there really is no excuse to not vote.