Several questions have risen since the City of Guthrie announced they will be seeking a one percent sales tax increase to the citizens with a vote on Aug. 26.
The proposed one penny increase would take the current three percent city sales tax to four percent beginning on Jan. 1, 2015. Related story: Citizens to vote on one percent sales tax increase
At the bottom of this article you will find a poll on where you stand on the proposal.
City officials say 50 percent of the penny would be used for capital items such as roads, traffic signals, water and sewer upgrades, sidewalks, beautification, library enhancements, tornado sirens, ATV trails, equine trails, facilities and other items that allow the City to carry out services in the community.
The other 50 percent would be dedicated towards employee compensation and equipment. It would support the increase cost to provide compensation for all employees, including, but not limited to dispatchers, firefighters, mechanics, maintenance, airport, animal control, economic development, finance, water, purchasing, court clerk, police officers, human resources, payroll, facilities, library, municipal services, cemetery and parks, convenience center, mechanics, sewer, planning, inspections, code enforcement and streets
If passed, it would be the first increase since 1979 and is projected to raise $1.4 million for the City to dedicate annually. The proceeds would be used to catch up to the 2014 inflation and expectations rather than to fund specific new projects. Projects such as – repaint water towers, fix tornado sirens, purchase a fire engine and traffic signals.
The I-35 and Highway 33 corridor remains a busy area for sales tax revenues with nearly 20,000 vehicles passing through daily.
“This tax is not a tax that only our citizens may pay for; it is spread out from people all over and is used to benefit our community specifically,” a city spokesperson said.
Along with updating projects, city officials say the increase could also provide opportunity to explore new projects and enhancements in the future, once the current needs had been met.
While city officials are upbeat and positive about the proposed changes, they do fear what a failed proposition could mean for the city.
“In order to maintain services, the council could recommend a fee increase that would affect only those customers with a water bill. This would result in more of a burden to our own citizens rather than sharing costs with tourists who shop in Guthrie and enjoy local amenities. Alternatively, some services provided through the City may simply be reduced or disappear,” a city spokesperson concluded with.
Sales tax dollars at all-time best
City sales tax revenues are at an all-time best and are expected to go over $4.5 million dollars in the current fiscal year. In the 2013 fiscal year (Oct. 2012 to Sept. 2013), the city collected $4,378,443.40 compared to the year before with $4,096,089.03.
The following chart is the sales tax generated so far in the 2014 fiscal year: