The Woodward News

Local News

June 5, 2013

City calls for sales tax vote

Woodward, Okla. — Woodward City Commissioners set an election date to ask voters to approve a penny's worth of sales taxes for the next 15 years.

On Aug. 13,  Woodward citizens will cast their ballots on 2 sales tax issues.  The first is the proposed 15-year extension of an existing half-cent sales tax that is dedicated to capitol improvement projects.  The second is a proposed new half-cent sales tax increase that would provide funding for construction of a new central fire station and for the widening of 34th Street.

During the city commission meeting Monday, June 3, City Manager Alan Riffel and Chief Financial Officer Doug Haines explained why each of these half-cent taxes are important.

CAPITOL IMPROVEMENT TAX

Haines said the capitol improvement (CI) tax has already been in place for almost 20 years and in that time has proven to be "a vital source of revenue to the city, mainly in the areas of infrastructure improvements."

Riffel agreed, saying the CI tax has been used in the past to upgrade the city's wastewater, storm water, and potable water systems, as well as streets and bridges.

"On average each year we are able to put half a million to three-quarters of a million into our streets," Haines said.

"It's the same with water," Riffel added.

"Without this revenue source," Haines said "we would have no funds for those projects."

FIRE STATION

As for the new fire station and 34th street project (FS34) tax, Riffel said that "both projects have been identified as a high priority for the community for a number of years."

While certain preliminary work has been conducted, including hiring an engineer (Garver Engineering) for the 34th Street project and hiring an architect (Architects in Partnership) and construction manager (Joe D. Hall General Contractors) for the fire station, both Riffel and Haines said the projects can't go fully live until funding is in place.

"The preliminary proposals to the city for both projects put them in the range of $7 million per project," Riffel said.

However, he said that work is being done now to finalize plans and costs for the proposed project.

The city manager said that commissioners proceeded with setting an election date for the matter without these final numbers, because they have to call for an election at least 60 days in advance to allow proper time for notification to the public.

"But during the next 60 days we will be releasing the final drawings and final costs," he said. "We will roll out the plans and final costs of the projects in time for the public to make an educated decision at the polls."

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