Oklahoma voters go to the polls Tuesday to decide bond issues, tax hikes and races

Sunday, December 12th 2004, 3:41 pm
By: News On 6

Voters across Oklahoma will decide proposals for an increase in the hotel/motel tax in Oklahoma City, a new library in Tulsa and a sheriff's race in McIntosh County this week.

The polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

Tulsa County voters will consider a $79.1 million bond issue to build a new Grand Central Library downtown and operate and maintain the Tulsa City-County Library System.

The proposal would be funded by a 0.8-mill increase in the library's operating fund and a bond issue paid for with an additional property tax increase _ which is likely to be about 2 mills _ in the county's sinking fund.

The two issues will add $24.65 to the taxes of a home assessed at $90,000, said Charles Shannon, deputy library director.

The library will cost $56 million and have 200,000-square feet.

Computer upgrades are among the most-requested items for the system's suburban branch libraries, officials said.

``For many families, we are the computer,'' said Linda Saferite, the library system's chief executive officer.

In Oklahoma City, voters will consider a hotel/motel tax increase from 2 percent to 5.5 percent, which supporters say will generate an additional $4.5 million a year to improve horse show facilities at State Fair Park and promote tourism.

A study released in September by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce estimated that the 15 biggest horse shows in 2003 generated nearly $50 million for lodging expenses.

In Jenks, patrons will decide whether to approve a $15.25 million bond package, including about $2.5 million for the construction phase of a three-story football complex.

The proposed 36,000-square-foot facility would include larger, more up-to-date facilities with more space for weight training, locker rooms and coaches' offices, among other things.

Superintendent Kirby Lehman said the district's current football complex is outdated and needs upgrades in every area.

``In the '50s and '60s this was probably a good facility,'' Lehman said.

Also scheduled Tuesday is a county sheriff's race that was supposed to have been decided in August during the runoff election between incumbent Jeff Coleman and challenger Terry Jones.

Coleman, 34, lost by two votes then, but claimed irregularities in which one voter cast both an in-person absentee vote and voted on election day, and another voter was a convicted felon.

Then-District Judge Steven Taylor agreed the irregularities made it impossible to determine who won the election.

Gov. Brad Henry set a new Democrat primary for Tuesday, and the winner will take office because no Republican filed.

Coleman is seeking his second 4-year term. Jones is a Creek Nation Lighthorseman.