Sales tax issues, school bond proposals top ballots

Wednesday, October 13th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Residents have granted the wishes of Wagoner County authorities
who wanted money to replace an overcrowded, dilapidated jail.

On Tuesday in one of the many elections across Oklahoma, Wagoner
County voters approved a 0.85-cent, 10-year sales tax increase to
finance a $3.15 million, 80-bed facility that has been targeted for
closing by the state Health Department.

According to unofficials results from the county election board,
the tax received 72 percent approval. The money also will finance a
$1.12 million courthouse annex and renovations to the existing
courthouse. The courthouse doesn't meet requirements of the
Americans with Disabilities Act and is not wheelchair accessible
beyond the first floor.

In nearby Muskogee, city and county voters said "no" to
separate, one-penny sales taxes.

The county tax would have funded road and bridge repairs and
provided funding for the sheriff's office for eight years. Some of
the money was earmarked for rural fire departments and senior
citizen travel and meal programs. But only 37 percent of voters
approved of it.

The proposed city tax for six years was to pay for sewer and
water system improvements, street work and economic development
projects, among other things. It got just 36 percent approval.

In McIntosh County, Checotah residents voted down a $1.7 million
bond issue to repair and replace school roofs and construct a
science building. It received only 49.7 percent approval, far short
of the 60 percent needed.

Eufaula voters rejected a $1.25 million bond issue, giving it
just 49 percent approval. The funds would have been used to build,
furnish and equip an elementary school for grades kindergarten
through fourth.

The Payne County Election Board reported that Stillwater school
patrons approved an $11.5 million bond issue by a 76 percent
margin. More than half of the money is expected to go for a fine
arts center at Stillwater High School.

Money also will be spent for a new high school gymnasium, a
multipurpose building, expanded parking, a high school entryway and
computers and technology.

Patrons of the Jenks School District overwhelmingly approved two
bond issues totaling $11 million. One, for $10.62 million, was for
the fifth phase of the district's seventh- and eighth-grade center;
textbooks; land purchase for expansion, instruments, uniforms and
equipment for the bands and orchestra; driver education cars,
playground equipment and tennis courts. A separate bond issue was
for new school buses. Both received at least 70 percent of the

Residents in Kingfisher approved, with 82 percent of the vote, a
1-cent city sales tax to help pay operating costs for the
Kingfisher Regional Hospital. Hospital officials said the five-year
tax will help offset sharp cutbacks in Medicare reimbursements. The
hospital expects to lose almost $660,000 this year.

Voters in Durant approved a penny sales tax for five years to
fund economic development efforts, build public recreation
facilities and improve parks and streets. The tax is expected to
generate $1.6 million.

In Healdton, residents approved a head tax on water meters to
raise money for the 28-bed Healdton Memorial Hospital. The proposal
will assess an additional $4 per water meter per month to raise
$60,000 a year for the hospital, which has been losing about
$300,000 a year.

Ponca City residents gave 86 percent approval to an extension of
a sales tax to continue renovation of the historic civic center.
The half-cent sales tax is due to expire Nov. 30, but voters agreed
to continue it for three years.

Also approved Tuesday were:

--a $4.8 million bond issue for Tahlequah schools to build a new
science wing, band room, auditorium, fine arts and drama building
at the high school as well as an all-weather running track.

--a $2.7 million bond issue for Oologah-Talala schools for an
early childhood development center, high school sprinkler systems
and a media center expansion. No tax increase would be incurred
because other bonds are expiring in the district.

-- a $2.9 million bond issue for the Western Heights School
District in Oklahoma County for the acquisition of equipment,
renovation of facilities, purchase and installation of technology
equipment and software and the purchase of buses.

-- a $1.75 million bond issue for Luther schools to pay for a new
six-classroom wing and renovation of the high school.

-- a $1.3 million bond issue for Morris schools for a high school
addition and a cafeteria.

-- a $1.6 million bond issue for Fairview schools for a new

-- a $1.4 million bond issue for Wetumka schools for a new
elementary school.