OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Voters across Oklahoma will go to the polls Tuesday to consider sales tax issues to fund jail improvements, economic development and road projects.
For Beckham County residents, a 0.7-cent county sales tax could save their overcrowded jail from threatened closure by the state Health Department. The facility was built in 1911 and and a new wing was added in 1964.
It has a legal prisoner holding capacity of 28, but has held as many as 66 at once.
``I told them that if you don't pass the sales tax and you don't have another plan, we'll have to shut down the jail,'' said Don Garrison, director of the state Health Department's jail inspection division.
If voters approve the proposal, 0.6 of 1 cent would be earmarked for the jail's construction. The tax would last for 15 years. After that, a quarter-cent sales tax would remain to operate the jail.
The remaining 0.1 of 1 cent would be used to pay for emergency services, improve the senior citizen center and fund the county fair board.
Clydene Manning, Beckham county clerk, said the sales tax would increase from 7.5 percent to 8.2 percent in Carter and Sayre. In Erick and Elk City, sales tax would go up from 8.5 percent to 9.2 percent. On average, a family of four with an annual income of $25,000, would spend $51.45 more a year.
In Creek County, Drumright residents will be asked to extend the half-cent sales tax for 20 years, beginning Dec. 1, 2003. The money would be used to renovate the Drumright Memorial Hospital, said City Manager Ed Tinker. The tax, if approved, would generate $1.2 million over 20 years.
In Pawhuska, city officials are seeking extension of a penny sales tax that expires Dec. 31 through 2004. One proposition is for three-quarters of a cent and would be used for road construction and repairs, and water and sewer system improvements.
The tax generates $17,000 a month, Paul McAlexander, public works director, said. Residents have been voting on an extension every three years since 1986.
Another proposition would extend a quarter-cent sales tax through 2004 for community economic development. McAlexander said this proposition would generate about $4,500 a month.
Roger Mills County voters are being asked to approve a sales tax that would be used for the Roger Mills County Hospital and county rural fire departments. The tax also would be used to operate the Roger Mills County Senior Citizen Center.
Boundaries for the emergency 911 telephone service are part of the other proposition. Those included in the boundaries would be charged a fee.
Okmulgee voters are being asked to approve a half-cent sales tax increase, as well as extend another half-cent tax to pay for mandated water and sewer improvements. The city has to come up with nearly $16 million to repair the sewer system, as ordered by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
Oklahoma City residents will vote on whether to keep Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co. as their electricity provider. Voters last granted a service franchise to OG&E in 1976. This time the proposal election will grant OG&E only a five-year franchise agreement.
The Village, which is part of Oklahoma City, is asking voters to approve a 1.25 percent increase in the city sales tax. That would put the city's sales tax at 4 percent. Shoppers also pay a 4.5 percent state sales tax.
In Warr Acres, voters will consider whether to allow the city to engage in economic redevelopment. If voters approve, the city will pursue a plan already put forth that would allow officials to declare a three-block retail area as blighted property, allowing the city to buy it and then resell it to major retailers.
In Bethany, voters in Ward 4 will decide who will be their city council representative after a state court ruling cleared the way for an election to be held.
In other elections, Henryetta residents again will consider candidates for the Ward 3 council seat.