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February 9, 2014

City’s one-cent sales tax up for renewal

Funds benefit police, fire, parks and capital improvements

CLAREMORE —

Every penny counts for the City of Claremore. When added up, they pay for patrol cars, fire trucks, playground equipment — and a host of other goods and services that benefit residents.
Voters will go to the polls Tuesday to decide on the extension of the city’s one-cent sales tax. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
First implemented in 1972, the tax has been renewed every six years since. If approved, it will remain in place until July 1, 2020.
Each penny collected is divided four ways: 40 percent goes to capital improvements and 20 percent each goes to the Police, Fire, and Parks and Recreation departments.
The three departments receive about $650,000 each from the tax. 
“A total of $3.5 million is collected from the one-cent annually,” said City Manager Jim Thomas. “It’s spread out among those three critical areas and provides goods and services to the residents that they can feel, touch and see every day.”
Police Chief Stan Brown, Fire Chief Sean Douglas, and Parks and Recreation Director Joe Kays say their portions are used primarily for their departments’ operational costs and are critical to their budgets.
“It’s used for the operational expenses for the Police Department, the firing range, Animal Control and our radio tower site. We use those funds to operate and maintain those four sites,” Brown said. “It’s also used for first aid supplies, gas and fuel for police cars, and a montage of everything in between. If we didn’t have these funds available for operational costs, we would have to drastically cut our personnel and would be unable to provide as good a service and response time.”
He noted that Claremore police have about a three-minute response time in the city versus Tulsa’s 30-40 minute average.
“And our agencies are as well-equipped as any in the state,” Brown  added.

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