The Guthrie city council unanimously voted on Tuesday evening to send a 15-year, three-quarter percent sales tax election to registered voters within city limits. If approved, the additional funds will be earmarked for capital improvements.
During their regular scheduled meeting inside City Hall, the council approved (7-0) Ordinance No. 3277 amending existing sales tax ordinances and levying and assessing a sales tax of three-quarters of a cent (.75) in addition to the present sales tax.
“Staff has envisioned this as a tool to help out all of our departments and the entire community. To have infrastructure necessary to create a higher quality of life and to be able to use it as development in the future to lower the cost for all of our citizens,” City Manager Bruce Johnson said prior to the council’s vote.
Voters will decide on Feb. 9, 2016 during a special election. The last day to register to vote will be Jan. 15, 2016.
Currently, the City of Guthrie has a sales tax of three percent, which has remained the same since 1979, and with a voter approval would increase to 3.75 percent, which would remain below the state’s average in city sales tax.
“That rate (3.75 percent) would put us at the state and regional average of sales tax,” Johnson explained.
In a report from the Tax Foundation, the state’s average combined state and local sales tax rate is 8.72 percent. With an approval, Guthrie’s sales tax rate would increase from 8.25 to 9 percent (State 4.5, County .75 and City 3.75).
“Basic mathematics tell you if our population stays the same, and we have no more investment into the community from outside the community, the actual cost of doing business goes up. So, all the citizens that are currently here will have a higher cost of living,” Johnson concluded with.
In the city council workshop on Nov. 17, Johnson shared the seven highest needs that he collected from council members and citizens.
The top needed projects, include a new waste water treatment plant (not a water treatment plant), a ladder truck for the Guthrie Fire Department, a sports complex, pool and splash pad facility, cemetery upgrades (fence and streets), fleet for the city departments and adding a second fire station at an unknown location.
In a proposed budget by Johnson, the wastewater plant has an estimated cost of $4.68 million and would be financed through 13 years (2018-2030), ladder truck at $1 million (2016-2025), sports complex at $2.4 million (2018-2027), pool and splash pad facility at $3 million (2017-26), cemetery needs at $350k in 2016, city fleet at $2.25 million (15 years) and a second fire station at $2.028 million (2027-30).
A secondary list was provided of other projects, which the City will seek public input on to decide what citizens are looking for in quality of life for the estimated remaining balance of $3,296,458.