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VOTERS approve sales tax issues


Okmulgee voters approved a penny sales tax Tuesday that will fund repairs mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to the city's sewer system.

The sales tax, which will last for 25 years, passed 997 (89 percent) to 122 (11 percent). If the proposal had failed, Okmulgee residents would have been faced with a $20-a-month increase in their water and sewer bills.

Okmulgee needed $8.3 million for repairs at the sewage plant and $7.6 million to replace sewer collection lines throughout the city, the city manager said recently. The rest of the money will go to building a fire station and to the purchase of a fire truck.

City officials want to float an $18.7 million bond package with the tax proceeds. They said a huge increase in utility bills was the only alternative to the sales tax.

Voters in Roger Mills County approved a sales tax proposal by a 335 (61 percent) to 214 (39 percent) vote. The money will be used for the county hospital, the senior citizens center and rural fire departments.

In Pawhuska, voters approved both measures of a penny sales tax extension to last through 2004.

The first proposition, for three-quarters of a cent, passed 160 (86 percent) to 26 (14 percent). It will be used for construction and repairs to roads and to the water and sewer system.

The second measure, for a quarter-cent tax, passed 150 (81 percent) to 35 (19 percent) and is for economic development.

In Drumright, voters approved a 20-year, half-cent sales tax extension by a vote of 372 (88.8 percent) to 47 (11.2 percent). The $1.2 million raised will be used for renovations to the city hospital.

In Oklahoma County, voters in The Village approved a 1.25 percent sales tax increase by 89.1 percent. Residents of the Oklahoma City suburb voted 1,221 to 149 to raise the city tax, which will now be 4 percent.

City leaders said the increase was needed to offset projected revenue losses from the expected closure of the local Wal-Mart store this month.

In Warr Acres, 65.8 percent of voters approved a proposition that will allow city leaders to use sales tax revenues for economic development projects. The vote was 424 to 220.

Officials would like to redevelop an area bounded by NW 36th Street, the NW 39th Expressway, MacArthur Boulevard, and Hammond Avenue. City leaders hope the redevelopment will attract a major retailer and make up for the loss of its Wal-Mart store, which closed in April 2000.

In Oklahoma City, voters agreed by 88.8 percent (4,493 to 585) to keep Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. as their electric service provider for another five years.

Utility franchises usually are for 25 years, but deregulation uncertainties shortened the length of renewal, officials said.

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