Editor’s note: This is a column written by Muskogee County Commissioner Ken Doke. MuskogeeNOW.com does not take sides on political issues, so this should not be construed as our opinion, and opposing opinions are welcome.
On June 13th, Muskogee County voters will be asked to renew a half-cent sales tax that comes up for renewal every 10 years.
Nearly every county in Oklahoma currently has a county sales tax in place. The half-cent sales tax in Muskogee County generates approximately $3 million per year. That revenue is vital to county operations; especially, when you consider that the entire county budget is only $6 million annually. Counties across Oklahoma are already reeling from state budget cuts. Nearly $200 million has been swept statewide from the County Improvement of Road Bridge funds since the downturn in the state economy a few years ago. The Sheriff’s Office has seen dramatic cuts as well. For example, the State Department of Corrections has slashed the rates that they pay the county for housing inmates. In order to balance the 2016 county budget, the Sheriff’s Office took an $800,000 budget cut while commissioners saw their budgets slashed by a half million dollars.
Significant improvements have been made to county roads throughout the county using this sales tax money. Dirt roads are now gravel, or they have been upgraded to chip seal. Chip seal roads have been upgraded to asphalt. Dilapidated bridges have been replaced. We still have a long way to go, but without this sales tax renewal, improvements would come to a stand-still. A portion of the proposed sales tax renewal also goes to the sheriff’s office. People who live in cities and towns across the county (including Muskogee) benefit from deputies who respond and assist with 911 calls. County deputies serve the lion’s share of court related documents in Muskogee and throughout the county. Some of the sheriff’s funding goes toward the 911 Call Center, which handles all of the dispatching for all police and fire for every city throughout the entire county; including the city of Muskogee. If this funding measure fails, coverage and services provided by the Sheriff’s Office across the entire county would be drastically affected. For continued improvement of our our roads and bridges and to ensure that the Sheriff’s Office has deputies and equipment available to respond to issues of public safety; VOTE YES on June 13th to renew the half-cent county sales tax. #NotATaxIncrease #NotANewTax #PleaseRenew #VoteYes