Three county propositions on Tuesday’s ballot all focused on the allocation of a proposed one cent sales tax. If the tax had passed, it would replace the current one cent tax that is set to expire later this year.
If the tax had passed there would have been no change in sales tax across Rogers County. When the old tax goes out of effect, sales tax within Claremore City Limits will fall from the current 9.3 percent to 8.3 percent.
County Commissioner Ron Burrows, commissioner candidate Patrick Box and Sheriff Scott Walton expressed their disappointment with the election result.
The propositions in order requested the following:
13/16ths of each penny would provide for the construction, improvement, maintenance and repair of county roads and bridges. This measure lost 56.5 percent to 43.5 percent.
1/8th of each penny would provide for the payment of the judgment in the material corporations case. This measure lost 75 percent to 25 percent.
1/16ths- to provide funding to the rogers county sheriff's for public safety in Rogers County. This measure lost 58 percent to 42 percent.
In an interview before the election Burrows said if the tax was not renewed “two-thirds of our budget goes away. It is the reason we have paved roads all throughout Rogers County, so it’s critical that it gets renewed.”
Burrows also said that the second proposition, which failed by the largest margin, was critical to saving Rogers County millions of dollars.
“If we get that passed again, we could have that lawsuit paid off as soon as 2022, which will save Rogers County citizens millions in interest. That will also roll back our overall sales tax by a third of a penny from an additional tax set up in 2005 to pay that lawsuit off. That’ll increase your buying power as a consumer,” Burrows said before the election. “We’re well on our way to potentially paying that off 15 years early and saving millions in interest.”
Box echoed Burrows’ sentiment after the election saying “I’m sorry that the propositions didn’t pass, because that is just going to make the commissioner’s job very, very difficult.”
“I believe if they hadn’t split the tax up, the one cent would have passed for roads and bridges by itself,” Box said, theorizing about why the tax failed. “Nobody, including myself, wants to give money away off of our infrastructure.”
“This is going to lay many people off, and I don’t want to see anybody lose their jobs. Our roads are going to go to pot. They are not going to be able to maintain them. Equipment is going to go back, it’ll have to be sold to do other things,” Box said. “I hope that maybe we get the one cent sales tax back on the ballot at some point in time and that we get it passed.”
Walton expressed serious concern for the negative impact that the failed propositions entail for the Sheriff’s Department.
“In a time when we need more, we're getting less,” Walton said about the loss of tax revenue. “Now that 788 has passed, and the problems we're going to have, I need additional staffing. We just got the biggest financial slap upside the head that I've been dealt.”
“I want to believe that the people who voted no think this is a new tax, that they just don't understand it,” Walton said, taking issue with the way the propositions were promoted and how they appeared on the ballot. “Unless you've done a lot of research on it, I don't think you can make your mind up off of what was there,” he said.
“Everything people enjoy in Rogers County—like the best roads of all 77 counties and stellar infrastructure—this is how we pay for that,” Walton said. “My intentions are to re-group and inform people and get this on the November ballot and get back on track financially.”