McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Local News

March 16, 2013

Update: City Council

McALESTER — City councilors passed two measures Tuesday night that will result in city voters going to the polls again to either accept or reject a “change of purpose” of an existing 1 percent city sales tax — but there’s nothing in the new ballot language mandating that the money be used only for road and street projects.

Mayor Steve Harrison said Wednesday that’s not necessary because the street improvement language had been covered in another proposition passed by voters last November. City councilors voted unanimously during their regular Tuesday night meeting in the council chambers at City Hall to pass the two measures related to a special election.

The first item passed Tuesday night related to an ordinance stating the measure, if passed by voters, would “replace and supersede” a 1 percent sales tax currently being levied by the city.

On the second agenda item, city councilors passed a resolution calling for a May 14 election on the issue. Last November, city officials including City Manager Pete Stasiak and Harrison said the money gained by replacing or re-purposing the 1 cent tax would be used strictly for road and street projects.

A measure to allow the city to refinance the original bond package at a lower interest rate did pass last November, but a second proposition asking voters to re-purpose the tax failed.

On Tuesday night, the city’s bond finance adviser Jon Wolff addressed the council prior to the vote on the ballot language. Ward 1 Councilor Weldon Smith asked Wolff to stress that if voters pass the measure in the upcoming election, there would be no new sales tax and no extension of an existing sales tax. “This is not a new tax.

This is changing the purpose of an existing sales tax,” Wolff said. Following a brief discussion, all of the council voted to pass the two measures, with the exception of Ward 5 Councilor Buddy Garvin, who was not present.

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