The Woodward News

Local News

December 4, 2012

Cost of fairgrounds project estimated at $12.4 million

(Continued)

Woodward, Okla. — PROPOSING A PROPOSED HALF-CENT SALES TAX

Although concerned about the increase in the projected price, the commissioners were comforted that, even at $12.4 million, financial advisors believe the project could be covered by only a half-cent sales tax increase.

Matthew Reichert, vice president the Norman-based financial services firm of Stephen H. McDonald & Associates, Inc., said that based on the $12.4 million estimate, a half-cent sales tax increase could pay for the fairgrounds project within 13 years.

Reichert said that 13 years was being "very conservative" and noted that "you could get it paid off, assuming you continue to collect what you're collecting now, in slightly under 11 years."  He noted that was based on a 10-year historical review of sales tax collections in the county, "and largely weighted on what you've done in the last 3 years and then using those to push out for the next 11 to 13 years."

Once the bonds for the construction project are repaid, he said, "the half-cent drops to just a tenth of a cent."  This ongoing tenth of a cent tax would be used to generate revenue, at around $250,000 a year, to pay for maintenance of the new fairgrounds complex, he said.

Reichert said he will present the commission with a resolution outlining the specifics of the sales-tax increase at their next meeting in order to meet the Dec. 13 deadline to have the matter included on a Feb. 12, 2013 election ballot.

However, he spoke with commissioners this week to establish whether they were comfortable with setting the $12.4 million price estimate "as a ceiling" since he needed to be able to include an upper cost limit in the election resolution.

While noting that "we still have questions we need to ask the architect" about the cots, the county commissioners all said they believed it was "fair" to include the $12.4 million figure in the election resolution as the maximum price for the project.

"What's important is to finance what the actual cost will be because we don't want to have to try and come up with extra money later or cut back on what we thought the project would be," Roedell said.

Roedell also told The News that he was "pleased that he (Reichert) thought a half-cent would cover the project.  That's the figure that we've heard tossed around and what we thought would be adequate."

Reichert also sought to comfort the commissioners even more by saying that even with a half-cent sales tax increase "you won't be pricing yourselves out of the region."

Woodward County's current sales tax is set at 0.825 cents, which would increase to 1.325 cents if the half-cent increase is passed by voters, Reichert said.

However, he said that several area counties have higher sales taxes, charging the maximum 2 cent sales tax, including Alfalfa, Beaver, Ellis and Harper counties.  A few counties have lower rates, including Woods County at . 5 cents and Major County at .25 cents.  At a 1-cent rate, Texas County has the closest sales tax rate to Woodward County.

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