“It’s the same old penny.”
On Tuesday, February 11, Claremore residents will (hopefully) head to the polls to vote on the extension of the city sales tax.
This tax has been in place since 1972, and has been renewed successfully every six years. This time, the vote will be to keep it in place for 10 years. THIS IS NOT A NEW TAX AND TAXES ARE NOT GOING UP.
This is NOT a new tax. Taxes are not going up.
The vote determines that one cent from each sales tax transaction is designated for police, fire, and parks. 20% of each penny goes to each entity. This one penny produces about $3.5 million per year for Claremore. (The other 40% goes in a capital outlay fund; any city department is allowed to submit requests as part of the annual budget for new equipment, computers, property, etc. Those decisions are made by the city finance committee and the city manager.)
If the vote doesn’t pass, here’s what will likely happen:
The police department would face layoffs, losing six or seven of our 39 officers. This means a slower response time in case of an emergency, as the manpower would be lessened. That seems like a pretty big deal. Additionally, officers would not be able to provide acts such as funeral escorts and parade traffic control. Funds from the penny pay for fuel, computers, safety equipment, personal protective gear for officers, basically everything except salaries.
The fire department would be in a similar situation, losing six to eight firefighters. Again, this puts a damper on your public safety needs. This penny pays for all operating costs for the fire stations. It’s how they keep the lights on and fuel in the trucks. They need that fuel to get to you if your house is on fire or if you’re in a car accident.
The parks department will probably cease to exist. Like the other departments, the penny funds everything for parks and recreation except salaries. It pays for dog parks, splash pads, playground equipment, shelters and restrooms in our parks, and mowing equipment. Without the passing of the penny tax, there will be no capital improvements.
Folks, please vote on February 11. We can’t tell you how to vote, but just keep in mind that A.) The quality of life and public safety in our fair city will suffer if it doesn’t pass and B.) THIS IS NOT A NEW TAX AND SALES TAX IS NOT GOING UP.