Claremore Daily Progress

Our View

May 13, 2013

One-Cent Sales Tax Renewal

CLAREMORE —

“Sir, you spend money like a drunken sailor,” County Commissioner Kirt Thacker said to County Commissioner Mike Helm in a Board of County Commissioners meeting this past October. “It is time that we either get this under control or public trust will forever be diminished at least in Rogers County.”
It is actually a little too late for public trust where liberal government spending is concerned.
In Helm’s defense, he has only spent money that was legally available to him. Commissioner Helm could not actually spend like a drunken sailor if he did not have access to so much taxpayer money. 
That brings us to the subject of the upcoming vote for an extension of the temporary one-cent sales tax that goes to building county roads.
This tax has been temporary for 25 years. When it was first proposed, the County Commissioners at the time insisted it would only be necessary for a period of five years. 
After five years, they promised, we would be caught up on paving dirt roads and our existing revenue streams would cover maintenance and repairs to all county roads handsomely. Despite their promises, Rogers County voters have been asked and have renewed that tax, in its entirety, four more times. Shouldn’t we be able to scale it back a little bit now that all of the roads are paved? 
During that twenty-five years this county had one of the highest growth rates in the country, which means the taxes collected each year from that same one penny have grown appreciably. 
Over bacon-cheeseburgers at the Hammett House, I asked Thacker if an analysis had been done to determine exactly how much money was needed to maintain the quality of roads we enjoy in Rogers County today. 
He responded that while such an analysis had not been done, he felt sure that if it were done, it would confirm the need for the whole penny - if not more. While I believe Thacker could put the money to good use, and that his intentions are good, I also believe taxpayers are owed that analysis before forking over $6 million dollars per year for five more years. President Ronald Reagan famously said “trust, but verify.”

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