Claremore Daily Progress

March 6, 2013

County plans for One-Cent Tax renewal

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE — Rogers County Commissioner Mike Helm started a dialog Monday at the weekly commissioner’s meeting, concerning the renewal of the Rogers County One Cent Tax later this year.

The election could be held as early as May 14.
Currently, the “road tax” generates approximately $15 million each year. The funds are divided equally between the three commissioners monthly to pay for road projects.
Helm brought the item forward as an announcement and requested that Assistant District Attorney David Iski provide the necessary paperwork to set the election.
“Us calling for the one cent ballot, can we make sure it gets on the agenda for next week for March 11?” Helm said.
“I have drafted it and I will need some direction from all three of you what type of wording if you want alternatives,” Iski said. “I can present all the options to you. I have the format for the resolution and the ballot already written.”
One thing to consider on the timing of the election is if it would have to be a special election, Iski said.
Helm and Iski did not provide an exact date for the vote at this time.
If the resolution is approved next week and submitted to the Rogers County Election Board prior to the March 14 deadline, the election date would be May 14 just 60 days later.
The board will have two other options according to Election Board Secretary Julie Dermody.
The paperwork could be turned in by April 11 for a June 11 election or May 9 for a July 9 election.
Dermody confirmed the vote would be done by special election and would occur in this summer.
Election dates are set by the state of Oklahoma and have already been determined for this year, she added.
Summer elections are typically lower in turnout than a general election or presidential primary.
The recent school board, bond and city council elections have had very low turnout, according to Dermody.
She recently voiced her concerns about the low turnout and the impact it has on the elections.
The most recent tax extension election was held in December 2009 when Rogers County voters were asked to approve a one-sixth of a cent sales tax for the construction of the new courthouse and E911 Center.
Only five percent or 2,902 of the 50,367 registered voters turned out for the election.
That sales tax was extended until 2040 with 2,132 voting in favor and 769 voting against the issue.
Previously the One Cent Tax or “road tax” was extended in Feb. 2008.
In that election, which was also a Presidential primary, 41 percent of registered voters turned out to vote.
Approximately 20,000 votes were cast on the “road tax” question and the tax was passed by only 1,900 votes.
Each year, the sale tax generates approximately $15 million
That same year, less than 5,000 voters of the more than 20,000 registered came to the polls in each of the summer elections.
The county has approximately 1,800 miles of roads.