Approaching quickly on February 8th is the sales tax election for Sapulpa, and residents are highly encouraged to vote and give their ‘two cents’.
The election would be a renewal of the existing two cents sales tax for the city, extending the tax into perpetuity so it doesn’t have to come before the board unless necessary.
The two cents are not a tax raise, but an extension of what was established in 1989 and extended in 2006. Mark Lawson, Director of Economic Development, ensures the breakdown of spending from the sales tax isn’t changing either, and that this sales tax extending into perpetuity just means it doesn’t waste time coming before the board every so often for nothing to change. The sales tax can still be brought up and changed if it needs to, however. Perpetuity brings stability to the city and its budget with year-to-year certainty.
The current revenue from the sales tax is just over 7 million dollars, and Lawson says a loss of that sum could lead to serious cuts or even raised rates for Sapulpa residents. The revenue accounts for a larger portion of the budget, about 30% of the General Fund, which would be a considerable raise in utility rates like sewer and water, or a drastic cut in the city’s budget, or both.
Lawson agreed no one likes to pay taxes, but when it translates to which services you want, you have to evaluate if the tax is worth it. Rising utility rates would only affect Sapulpa residents getting their services from the city, some bills more than doubling, while a sales tax captures funds from a much larger pool. A high sales tax might push shoppers away, possibly choosing a city with a lower percentage.
“No one likes paying sales tax,” Lawson reiterated, “but we’d still be very competitive regionally.” Several nearby municipalities, Jenks, Bixby and Glenpool included, already have a 2 or 3 cent in perpetuity for sales tax. Cities in Oklahoma are the only in the country that rely on sales tax to operate. Ad Valorem taxes, of which property taxes are an example, are limited for municipalities due to Article X Section 9 in the Oklahoma Constitution. To use ad valorem taxes for cities, the entire way the city funds things would have to be re-structured. Other states in America allow their cities to blend different types of taxes.
Early voting begins on Thursday, February 3rd and Friday, February 4th. City officials highly encourage Sapulpa citizens to vote, voice their opinions and give their two cents on the two cents sales tax. The official election takes place on Tuesday, February 8th.