Owasso Residents Weigh Half-Penny Sales Tax Increase

Saturday, January 10th 2015, 9:31 pm
By: News On 6

Sales tax could be going up in Owasso, but city leaders say it's all for good reason.

They say they need the half-penny increase to keep up with their growing needs.

Owasso residents will vote on Tuesday.

The city wants to put the money toward hiring more police officers, adding another fire station and improving roads.

"It's all about safety, that's really what it all comes down to," Owasso father Jeff Paul said.

Paul and his family live in the Northwest part of town.

And it's that corner of Owasso that Paul said is in desperate need of a fire station and more police.

“It wasn't maybe a month or two months ago, lightning struck a house in our neighborhood,” he said. “The response time for our fire department was 7 minutes, and while we believe that's fast, the national average is about 5 minutes. So if we actually had a fire station out here, the response time would have been cut dramatically."

City manager Warren Lehr claims the half- penny sales tax would raise $4 million the first year.

"The average Owasso family will probably see about a $62 per year increase or about $5 a month when you factor in their average taxable spending."

Which makes it possible to hire more police, build a fire station close to Paul's neighborhood and rehabilitate city streets.

But some business owners said they're skeptical.

"My concerns are whether the money will be spent for what they say they're going to spend it for,” business owner Royal Stuart said.

But the city manager said that's unfounded worry, and with the tax, residents actually will be getting some money back.

“The $36 per year we plan to give back to Owasso residents in the form of taking away their public safety capitol fee of $3 per month," Lehr said.

A deal Paul said he supports.

“I'm in favor of anything that benefits everyone in Owasso," he said.

If passed, the tax will begin on April 1.