Okemah sales tax, Mason school bond on Nov. 12 ballot
By Ken Childers
Certain registered voters in Okfuskee County will take to the polls in special elections on Tuesday, Nov. 12.
Voters living in the Okemah city limits will face a proposition regarding the extension of a half-cent sales tax, while patrons of the Mason School District will decide the fate of $295,000 bond issue.
On Aug. 12, the Okemah City Council unanimously approved a resolution to call the special election in an effort to extend the city’s one-half cent sales tax, which is set to expire at the end of this year.
The tax has been in effect since Jan. 1, 1999 and was used to finance the construction of the “Quantum Building” in the Industrial Park, which was paid off at the end of 2018.
If approved, the tax would be extended for five years and the revenue would be used for economic development, infrastructure and improving local roads.
During the August meeting, City Manager Dustin Danker made a presentation to the council that laid out a five-year plan for the potential tax dollars that includes beautification signs, a street overlay project and a water main upgrade. The total estimated cost of the plan is $738,130, which is $14,567 under the amount the existing tax has generated over the past five years.
“The thing to remember is, this isn’t just a tax on the citizens of Okemah,” Danker said during his presentation. “This applies to anybody who spends a dollar here. Everybody who stops and buys fuel off of I-40, they’re going to take on a huge part of this. It’s not just our tax burden.”
During the Mason Board of Education meeting held on Sept. 9, the board approved a resolution calling for a bond issue election on Nov. 12 for the amount of $295,000 for upgrades to the district.
“With the approval of this bond package, Mason Schools can meet many immediate needs of the district with no increase in taxes,” Superintendent Alfred Gaches said.
According to Gaches, the major projects contained in the bond package include painting facilities, upgraded intercom systems, transportation, upgraded technology, classroom furniture, playground equipment, athletic facility improvements and general maintenance equipment.
“Each of these items have been identified as a need by our district, and we must prioritize these projects within the budget constraints that we face,” Gaches said.
The deadline for requesting absentee ballots for both elections is 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6 and early voting will be available on Thursday, Nov. 7 from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Friday, Nov. 8 from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m at the Okfuskee County Courthouse.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. on election day. Visit www.ok.gov/elections for more information.