Verdigris town leadership voted Thursday night to put a one (1) percent sales tax increase before the people in a Feb. 13, 2007 election. Also on the slate will be a four (4) percent hotel/motel excise tax.

Growth in Verdigris has created new budgetary demands on city coffers such as the addition of a stoplight at Franklin Road this past August.

“The cameras mounted on the Franklin Road signal light cost more in electricity now, but will save us in the long run when we don’t have to tear up a street to fix it,” Mayor Dick McGuire said.

Town leaders report the signal light has increased public safety and helped ease the flow of traffic in the area. The proposed tax increase would give city coffers the boost they need to respond to such emerging needs.

A one (1) percent sales tax increase would bring Verdigris town sales tax to three (3) percent. This is in line with most Oklahoma towns and cities, including neighboring Claremore.

McGuire has estimated, based on current tax figures, that this increase could bring in an additional $4,500 each month for the town.

The hotel occupancy tax could potentially generate $1,000 more each month. The four (4) percent excise tax would be the same as Claremore’s and allow local hotels and motels to stay competitive within the area. Claremore collects hotel/motel taxes which are in turn utilized fund their Convention an Visitors Bureau.

Attorneys Johanning and Byrom, P.C. will be hired by the city as special counsel for these elections.

The proposed addition of a QuikTrip in Verdigris, in tandem with the tax increases, could mean as much as $8,500 in additional revenue for the city each month.

Verdigris leadership is also concerned with finding means of collecting taxes not currently being paid to the town. When materials such as lumber for home building are delivered to a location in a town, the sales tax on that product is owed to the town where it has been delivered, regardless of where the product originates. Currently, many towns, including Verdigris, feel they are not being paid the taxes due on such products. Following an executive session, the council authorized the mayor to add Verdigris to the list of municipalities having difficulty collecting on delivered goods within town limits. This group will consult with the Oklahoma Municipal League and Oklahoma Tax Commission on ways to remedy the problem.

The mayor reported that he has an upcoming meeting with Claremore officials.

“We want to work with Claremore,” he said.

Claremore City Manager Troy Powell confirmed McGuire’s statements saying the city has been formally invited to attend Verdigris town meetings on Nov. 2 and 16.

“The purpose of the meetings is to begin formally discussing our partnerships and to get to know their Council members,” Powell said. “This is a great opportunity for both communities.”

Verdigris’ town trustees, in turn, will attend a Claremore Council meeting Dec. 4.

“Both communities are looking at passing formal resolutions of partnership and cooperation,” Powell said. “I continue to be excited about our partnership opportunities with our neighbor community.”

Additionally, McGuire reported on property landscaping for the Town Hall to be in keeping with beautification along Historic Route 66, Christmas lights to go up by mid November, and a meeting with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) to request the addition of Verdigris to signs.



Joy Hampton covers the Catoosa and Verdigris areas. Contact her at baseybunch@mac.com

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